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Pakistan clashes kill 11 troops, 24 militants

world Updated: Dec 24, 2010 19:35 IST
Reuters
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Insurgents attacked five security checkpoints in a northwestern Pakistan region on the Afghan border on Friday killing 11 soldiers and leading to clashes in which 24 militants died, officials said.

About 150 militants staged simultaneous attacks on the checkpoints in the Baizai area of the Mohmand ethnic Pashtun tribal region, 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 militant bomb attacks across Pakistan since the army stormed a militant-run mosque in the capital, Islamabad, in 2007.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb hit a police patrol in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, killing a policeman and wounding seven, officials said.

Separatist rebels, not linked to Islamist militants, have been waging a low-intensity insurgency in gas-rich Baluchistan for decades.

In another incident, in the northwestern city of Peshawar, a blast outside a school wounded a teacher and three children, police said.

The army says its offensives in the Swat valley, South Waziristan and other Pashtun regions in the northwest have weakened the Taliban, although analysts question the effectiveness of the assaults because militants tend to melt away and establish strongholds elsewhere.

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

The United States has delivered more than $633 million to Pakistan as part of a fund to help its ally fight Islamist militancy, the United States said in a statement.

The U.S. fund, known as the Coalition Support Fund, is used to reimburse states such as Pakistan that have incurred costs in supporting counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations and covers January to June 2010.

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