Khar Bajaur: At least three soldiers and seven militants were killed on Monday in a clash in Pakistan`s troubled northwestern tribal belt near the Afghan border, officials said.
Heavy exchange of fire took place during an operation to clear suspected militants from the mountainous Banda area of Salarzai town in Bajaur tribal district along the Afghan border, local and security officials said.
"Two soldiers and an army captain have been martyred while seven militants were also killed in the clash," a security official told AFP, adding that two soldiers were wounded.
Pakistan paramilitary Frontier Corps and local tribal police early Monday launched a house-to-house "search and cordon operation... to clear the area of militants", the official told AFP.
A group of militants attacked them in the afternoon triggering "a heavy exchange of fire which lasted for several hours", the official said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to media.
The clearance operation is still ongoing with intermittent gun fire, the official added.
Bajaur is a part of Pakistan`s seven tribal districts which are rife with homegrown insurgents as well as Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives.
The mountainous Banda area is considered to be a particular stronghold of militant groups, a senior government official in the area said.
Pakistan has strengthened its anti-terror strategy in the wake of a December 16 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that killed 150 people, 134 of them children.
Pakistani troops have been engaged in a full-scale offensive against Taliban and other militants in North Waziristan and Khyber tribal districts since last year.