Fifty pro-Taliban militants and 20 soldiers were killed in clashes on Sunday in Pakistan's restive North Waziristan tribal region, where security forces have launched a massive crackdown in retaliation for attacks on the military by rebels over the past few days.
At least 30 militants were killed and 15 others injured in fighting in a mountainous area south of the town of Mir Ali after some 500 security force personnel backed by helicopter gunships and artillery launched an operation against militant hideouts in the region bordering Afghanistan, military spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said.
Ten soldiers were killed in these clashes.
Hours after the operation by the security forces began, militants ambushed a military convoy at Hassukhel in North Waziristan, killing at least 10 soldiers and injuring 12 others. Twenty militants were killed when soldiers retaliated, Arshad said, adding the exchange of fire was continuing.
In a separate incident, security forces arrested two militants in the same area.
Local residents claimed four civilians, including three women and a child, were also killed in the clashes in the mountainous area.
The army launched the crackdown after the militants yesterday ambushed two military convoys using improvised explosive devices near Mirali town, killing two soldiers and injuring 30 others. The operation was continuing till late this evening, with security forces shelling militant hideouts in the mountains, reports said.