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Pakistani security forces kill 23 militants in NW

A soldier of Pakistan para military force stands guard at the mausoleum of founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah on the occasion of Pakistan's Independence Day in Karachi, Pakistan on Tuesday, March 23, 2010. A soldier of Pakistan para military force stands guard at the mausoleum of founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah on the occasion of Pakistan's Independence Day in Karachi, Pakistan on Tuesday, March 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
March 24, 2010

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PARACHINAR, Pakistan—Pakistani security forces backed by jets pounded militant hide-outs near the Afghan border on Wednesday, killing 23 suspected Islamist insurgents, a government official said.

Pakistan's military has launched a series of offensives in the border region over the last 18 months following intense U.S pressure. The region is home to many militants battling American troops in Afghanistan.

Security forces used ground forces and fighter jets during operations in the Orakzai tribal region Wednesday and cleared out three militant strongholds, said local government official Rasheed Khan. One soldier was wounded, he said.

The region is very remote making it difficult to independently verify reported casualties.

Orakzai is the base of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, who officials believe was killed in a U.S. missile strike early this year. The group has said he is alive, but has not provided any evidence.