( dpa ) - Pakistan's security forces on Friday launched an offensive against Islamic militants who seized four trucks carrying army ammunition in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan the day before, the officials and media reports said.
"A group of six hired civilian trucks which were carrying stores and supplies including some ammunition was intercepted by miscreants at Dara Adam Khel on Thursday and four of these were hijacked," a statement from the Pakistani army said.
The attackers also briefly captured six soldiers accompanying the trucks that were traveling from a military base in Kohat, some 65 kilometres from the North-West Frontier Province capital Peshawar, to the tribal area where security forces are fighting al-Qaeda and pro-Taliban militants.
After the failure of peace talks with the rebels through tribal elders on Friday morning, hundreds of military and paramilitary troops with the backing of tanks, helicopter gunships and artillery, began targeting militants' positions in the mountains.
But the rebels were putting up a tough fight against the government forces and reportedly three soldiers have died so far in the clashes. Thirteen more security personnel were injured, the DawnNews channel said.
The firefight came a day after 40 militants and 10 soldiers were killed in a separate military action against the followers of pro-Taliban tribal leader Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan district.
Mehsud has been accused of masterminding the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Pakistan's restive tribal belt is a safe haven for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters carrying out cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.