Five Pakistani soldiers killed in gunfights with militants
Islamabad: Five Pakistani soldiers were killed Tuesday in gunfights with militants during an army offensive against insurgent hideouts in a northwestern tribal area, the military said.
The two clashes happened near the town of Mirali in North Waziristan, where the army is in the midst of an a major operation to clear the area of militants and their strongholds.
The military said two soldiers were killed "in an intense exchange of fire with terrorists in and around Mirali", while three others were killed in a gunfight with militants in the nearby Fateh Khel area.
Eleven militants were killed in the clashes, the military added.
The area is off-limits to journalists, so the number and identity of those killed cannot be independently verified.
A security official told AFP that the army had begun ground operations in the Mirali and nearby Dattakhel areas on Monday.
The military launched the long-awaited offensive last month to try to wipe out longstanding militant strongholds in North Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan.
Jets and artillery began hitting rebel targets on June 15 to try to regain full control of the district after years of pressure from Washington and other powers.
More than 400 militants and 23 soldiers have been killed in the assault so far, according to the military.
The assault was launched after a dramatic attack on Karachi airport which killed dozens of people and marked the end of a faltering peace process with the Pakistani Taliban.
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