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Clash kills 28 militants, two soldiers: officials

world Updated: May 19, 2010 14:04 IST

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At least 28 militants and two soliders were killed Wednesday in a gunfight with Pakistani troops in a restive tribal area, officials said.

The clash took place in the village of Dabori in lawless Orakzai, one of seven districts in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt, where the military has waged an offensive against the Taliban since late March.

"At least 28 militants were killed and two soldiers were martyred in the fighting," local administration official Sajjad Ahmed told AFP.

A senior security official also confirmed the incident and death toll. It is impossible, however, to confirm casualty statistics independently in what is a closed military zone inaccessible to aid workers and journalists.

Pakistani forces opened a new front in Orakzai on March 24 in a bid to flush out Taliban who escaped a major assault last year on South Waziristan, which the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership turned into its headquarters.

The TTP, a key architect in a bombing campaign that has killed 3,300 people across Pakistan in three years, grabbed the global spotlight after the United States accused the group over a failed car bomb plot in New York on May 1.

Washington says Pakistan's tribal belt, which lies outside direct government control, is an Al-Qaeda headquarters and a stronghold for militants plotting attacks on US-led troops fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan.