Peshawar, September 23:

Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships killed 60 Taliban and Al Qaeda militants near the Afghan border, just days after the Marriott Hotel was bombed.

A soldier was also killed in two days of fierce clashes with Islamist fighters near Peshawar.

Pakistan’s new civilian government vowed at the weekend to crack down on ilitant “hotspots” in the wake of Saturday’s devastating suicide attack on the hotel that killed at least 60 people.

Troops yesterday launched a “search and cordon” operation to clear extremists from a strategic road tunnel and other hideouts in Dara Adam Khel, a restive region just outside Peshawar, the army said.

“More than 50 of them have been killed and one soldier was also martyred,” said military spokesman Major Murad Khan.