40 Taliban Militants Killed in New Pakistan Battle

Area residents continue to flee as militants dig in
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2007 4:22 AM CST
A local resident boards a truck with his belongings as he and others evacuate from the volatile area on outskirts of Mingora, the main town of Pakistan's Swat district bordering Afghanistan, Tuesday,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Dozens of Taliban militants have been killed in new fighting in northwest Pakistan, reports AP. Pakistani security forces moved into the Swat valley in the latest battle against supporters of hardline Islamic cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who is calling for Islamist rule in the area. Militants from Afghanistan have been crossing the border to join his rebellion.

Thousands of civilians have fled the valley, a former scenic tourist hotspot. Pakistan's interior ministry has called on the militants to lay down their arms and surrender. He intends to continue the offensive with helicopter gunships and artillery if they refuse. There was no immediate word on casualties among Pakistan's security forces.