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Pakistani forces kill 39 militants

Pakistani planes and ground forces have killed 39 militants as part of a continuing operation in a volatile tribal region near the Afghan border, the military said.

The air strikes were carried out in the Datta Khel area of the North Waziristan tribal region, an army statement said, adding that a tunnel system and a large underground cache of weapons and ammunition were destroyed.

The military claimed several important militant commanders were among the dead, but did not identify them.

Pakistani troops also ambushed a large assembly of militants on the border between the Orakzai and Khyber tribal regions, the statement said.

It said an intense battle took place in which 16 militants were killed and 20 injured. Four soldiers were also injured in the shoot-out, the statement said.

Journalists are barred from the region and it is impossible to independently verify the information.

The army says it has killed more than 1,200 militants since the start of a massive offensive on June 15 against militants in North Waziristan. The military offensive was launched after a terrorist attack on Pakistan's largest airport in Karachi.

North Waziristan is one of seven tribal regions near the Afghan border where local and foreign militants have found safe haven for years. A parallel government offensive is taking place in the neighbouring Khyber tribal region to pursue militants fleeing the North Waziristan offensive.

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