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45 killed in militant hideout raids

Pakistan army jets and helicopters have targeted militant hideouts near the Afghan border, killing 45 people identified as insurgents or members of their families, including women and children, according to security officials.

The attacks happened on Tuesday in the Teerah Valley in the Khyber region, where al Qaida and Taliban militants are known to have found sanctuary.

There has been no independent confirmation of the casualty figures because the area is too dangerous for outsiders to visit.

Few details about the raids have emerged, except that they took place in several villages in the valley and killed 45 people. One security official said some vehicles rigged with explosives had also been destroyed.

The official said "there might be civilian deaths as the terrorists were living with their families".

Another intelligence officer said some women and children were killed in the attacks.

In April, the Teerah Valley was hit by army air strikes which killed about 60 civilians. The army, which initially described the victims as insurgents, ended up paying compensation to their families and its chief issued a rare public apology.

Pakistan's army has been fighting Islamist militants in different parts of the north-west for more than two years.

Militants who fled major operations in South Waziristan and Orakzai tribal regions are believed to have set up new bases in Khyber, which is about 62 miles (100km) north-west of the main city in the region, Peshawar.

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