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Pakistan army says more than 100 soldiers died in fighting Taleban

Published on Feb 20, 2014 2:08 AM

ISLAMABAD (REUTERS) - Pakistan's army on Wednesday said more than 100 soldiers had been killed by Taleban militants in the last five months, in a rare admission of mass casualties since the start of government efforts to engage the insurgents in peace talks.

The administration of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who came to power last year promising to find a negotiated peace with the Taleban, has been trying to engage the militants in talks but these efforts have faltered in past weeks.

The lack of progress on peace talks has given rise to speculation that the government, backed by the powerful army, is preparing for a ground and air offensive against Taleban strongholds in the tribal belt on the Afghan border.

Requesting anonymity, security officials told Reuters that 308 civilians, 114 military personnel and 38 police officers had been killed since Sept. 2013, around a time when Sharif convened an all-party conference that unanimously opted for peace talks.

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