Clashes in Pakistan kill 40 militants, four soldiers
Forty militants and four soldiers were killed Monday in fresh clashes in Pakistan's tribal region near the Afghan border, government officials said, DPA reported.
Asmatullah Kkhan, an official at the local administration, said dozens of militants attacked a security check post in the Shirin Darra area of Orakzai tribal district early Monday with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.
Troops repulsed the attack after around two hours of shooting, and jet fighters pounded militant positions around Shirin Dara and in two other villages later on.
"According to the information we are receiving from the area, around 35 miscreants are killed while four soldiers died and seven more were injured," said Khan, adding that the sides were still exchanging sporadic fire in the area.
A local security official who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the gun battles and ensuing airstrikes. He gave the casualty figures as 38 militants and two troops killed in the action. Nine more soldiers were wounded.
Pakistani forces launched a major assault in the Orakzai district in late March against the Taliban, who had retreated in the face of an earlier operation in the neighbouring district of South Waziristan.
The clashes have lasted over two weeks, leaving 350 militants dead, according to official data. Many of the killed were fighters linked to al-Qaeda from Central Asian states, officials said.
The figures however remain generally unverified since the media has limited access to the mountainous district of Orakzai.
Monday's clashes came after a deadly weekend that saw the killing of 136 people - 70 of them civilians and the rest suspected Islamist insurgents - in clashes and airstrikes in Orakzai and the adjoining district of Khyber.