Pakistan clashes kill 11 troops, 24 militants

A blast outside a school in Peshawar wounded a teacher and three children.

Updated: Dec 24, 2010, 15:19 PM IST

Mohmand: Insurgents attacked five security checkpoints in a northwestern Pakistan tribal region on the Afghan border on Friday killing 11 troops and leading to clashes in which 24 militants died, officials said.

About 150 militants staged simultaneous attacks using small and heavy weapons on the Army checkpoints in the Baizai area of the Mohmand tribal agency, officials said.

"Eleven paramilitary troops were killed and about a dozen wounded when militants attacked several checkposts," the region`s top government official, Amjad Ali Khan, told reporters.

At least 24 militants were killed in clashes after the attacks and the death toll would likely rise following assaults on militant hideouts by helicopter gunships, he said.

A militant spokesman confirmed the attacks but disputed the official death toll, saying only two of their fighters were killed and three wounded.

Pakistani troops have scored major gains against pro-Taliban militants since last year, but insurgents have proved resilient and continued attacks on security forces and civilians.

More than 2,000 people have been killed in suicide and bomb attacks across Pakistan since the Army stormed a militant-run mosque in the capital, Islamabad, in 2007.

Elsewhere, a blast outside a school in northwestern Peshawar wounded a teacher and three children on Friday, police said.

The Army says its offensives in the Swat valley, South Waziristan and other tribal regions have weakened the Taliban, although analysts question their effectiveness because militants tend to melt away during crackdowns and establish strongholds elsewhere.

Pakistani action against militants on the border is seen as crucial to efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan, where

US forces are spearheading one of NATO`s biggest offensives against the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan has often been criticised for not doing enough.

An intensifying insurgency in Afghanistan has brought more pressure on Pakistan to go after militants operating out of sanctuaries in remote enclaves on its side of the border.

Bureau Report