Three policemen shot dead in northwest Pakistan

Militants have shot dead three policemen who went missing during an overnight search in northwest Pakistan, police said Wednesday.

The incident took place in the mountainous town of Ailam in the district of Malakand, where Taliban militants are active.

"Last night militants fired at a police patrol vehicle, after which a search operation was launched in which four policemen went missing," senior police official Asif Iqbal told AFP.

Police found the bullet-riddled bodies of three officers Wednesday morning, he added. A police station chief was wounded.

On December 8 unidentified gunmen shot dead two policemen who were on their way to protect a polio vaccination team in the neighbouring town of Buner.

The area where the latest killings took place is close to the Swat Valley. The army in 2009 sent 30,000 troops there to battle Taliban fighters controlled by cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who in 2007 took control of the valley and waged a campaign of violence including beheadings and attacks on girls` schools.

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