Image: Displaced Pakistani man and woman
Emilio Morenatti  /  AP
A Pakistani displaced man and a woman get their drugs in a pharmacy at a special IDP ward at the Mardan District hospital on Saturday, June 27.
updated 6/28/2009 11:20:54 AM ET 2009-06-28T15:20:54

Warplanes and helicopter gunships pounded suspected militant positions in Pakistan's troubled northwest on Sunday, killing 11 Taliban fighters, intelligence officials said.

The government also upped the stakes in its conflict with Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, offering a reward of 50 million rupees ($615,000) for information leading to Mehsud's capture or death.

Clashes between the military and Mehsud and his militants are increasing in the volatile northwest, where the army appears to be preparing for a fresh offensive aimed at eliminating the Taliban chieftain.

In North Waziristan, insurgents ambushed an army convoy on Sunday, killing six soldiers, intelligence officials said on condition on anonymity because they weren't authorized to disclose the information. The four officials say some soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

Insurgents also killed one government soldier in twin attacks on a pair of army outposts near Wana in South Waziristan shortly after morning prayers, the army said.

Pakistan's military kept up its bombing campaign on suspected militant hideouts in the region. Jet fighters struck the village of Kani Guram overnight, leaving eight militants dead, while helicopter gunships hit positions in Shah Alam and Raghhzai, killing three more fighters, the intelligence officials told The Associated Press.

It was not possible to independently confirm the casualty counts or the identities of those reported killed. Journalists have little access to the remote, dangerous region.

Islamabad has set its sites on Mehsud in recent weeks, and on Sunday the government published an announcement in two national newspapers offering a the reward for the Pakistani Taliban leader. His group has been blamed for a string of suicide attacks across the country that have killed more than 100 people in the past month. Smaller amounts were offered for information on his top lieutenants.

The U.S. State Department has already authorized a reward of up to $5 million for the Taliban leader.

The government's campaign against the Taliban is seen as a test of its determination to confront an insurgency that has grown in recent years after earlier military operations failed to finish the job, and peace deals with the Taliban collapsed.

Washington strongly supports the campaign, hoping it will eventually bring greater stability to Pakistan and help shut down al-Qaida and Taliban networks that use the border region as a springboard for attacks on U.S. and other forces in Afghanistan.

Also Sunday, Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, met with Pakistan's military chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani for talks on security issues, Pakistan's military said in a statement.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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