23 militants, 3 civilians killed in clashes in NW Pakistan
At least 23 pro-Taliban fighters and three civilians have died in a fierce exchange of fire between Pakistani security forces and militants in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region.
Peshawar: At least 23 pro-Taliban fighters and three civilians have died in a fierce exchange of fire between Pakistani security forces and militants in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region.
The clashes erupted late last night when militants ambushed a security forces convoy that was evacuating injured soldiers from Khajori check post after an attack by a suicide bomber.
"Security forces valiantly responded and encircled fleeing terrorists and inflicted heavy casualties on them. Firefight continued for some time, which resulted in killing of 23 militants," a senior Pakistani military officer said on condition of anonymity.
Three security personnel were injured in firefight.
Reports said three civilians died in shelling by the army though this could not be independently confirmed as the tribal areas are out of bounds for journalists.
Local residents said three civilians were killed and several houses destroyed by artillery fire in Mir Ali area.
Khajori check post was targeted by the suicide bomber when soldiers were offering prayers in a mosque. The bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into the post, killing five soldiers and wounding 34 others.
Ansarul Mujahideen, a little-known group linked to the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, saying it was carried out to avenge former Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud`s death in a US drone strike.
North Waziristan, one of seven semi-autonomous tribal districts along the Afghan border, is a safe haven for Al Qaeda and Taliban elements.