Pakistani security forces fought Taliban militants in the northwest's Swat Valley and entered two Taliban-held towns there, the army said today, foreshadowing what could become bloody urban battles. A top government official said the offensive had already killed more than 1000 Taliban fighters, while a group of pro-government religious leaders endorsed the operation but condemned US missile strikes.
The developments underscored Pakistan's resolve and frustration in its battle against militants. Washington has pressed Islamabad to crack down on al-Qaeda and Taliban strongholds along the Afghan frontier, saying the militants threaten not only US and NATO troops in Afghanistan but also nuclear-armed Pakistan's future. But many here believe the militancy has metastasized because of US intervention in Afghanistan.