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Pakistan kills 19 insurgents near Afghan border

From Wire Reports The Spokesman-Review

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Fighting intensified between the army and insurgents in a volatile tribal area near the Afghan border Sunday, a week after the collapse of a cease-fire.

At least 19 extremist fighters were killed in the battle, which involved army helicopters strafing positions in North Waziristan, security officials said. Fighting began Saturday when insurgents attacked an army checkpoint, prompting a battle that continued through the day Sunday and into the night, said an official in Miram Shah. Residents also reported hearing artillery fire Sunday night.

The clash followed a week in which about 170 people were killed in insurgent attacks.

Meanwhile, an angry Pakistani leader sharply rejected U.S. media criticism of his country’s hunt for terrorists and Osama bin Laden.

Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasure insisted on CNN’s “Late Edition” Sunday that his army was up to the job.

“We are committed to controlling terrorism, and people in Pakistan get very upset when despite all the sacrifices that Pakistan has been making you get all these criticisms” in the press, he said. “What I don’t like is the tone that I am now hearing and that I am now reading in the American media.”

President Bush’s homeland security adviser, Frances Fragos Townsend, said on “Fox News Sunday” that U.S. military force against terrorist hideouts in Pakistan remained a possibility.

“Job number one is to protect the American people. There are no options off the table,” she said.

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