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44 Killed As Fierce Fighting Erupts In Pakistan's Swat Valley

At least 44 people, including nine civilians, were killed in fresh clashes between Pakistan's military and local militants in the country's northwestern Swat valley, said officials on Thursday.

Officials said that a stray rocket hit the house of a seven-member family in the Deolai area, killing all the occupants, including the owner of the house, his four small children and his parents. Two other local civilians were also killed in the fighting.

The fierce clashes have also resulted in the death of at least 10 soldiers and about 25 militants, the officials said. They added that the death count in the fighting is bound to increase as several houses have been destroyed in the fighting so far.

Pakistani military officials said that fresh troops were sent to the area and added that helicopter gun ships and heavy artillery are backing the ongoing offensive against the Taliban militants in the valley.

These clashes effectively ends the peace agreement signed a couple of months ago between Pakistan's government and the militants in Swat valley, which was heavily criticized by the US other NATO allies.

The coalition forces in Afghanistan say that the cross-border militant attacks have increased considerably after the truce agreement between Pakistani government and the militants.

They also accuse Pakistan of not doing enough to end cross-border attacks on NATO targets by the Taliban militants based inside Pakistan's northwestern tribal provinces.

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