Pro-Taliban militants have executed 18 soldiers taken prisoner over the weekend in continuing clashes in Pakistan's restive tribal belt by the border with Afghanistan, officials said on Tuesday.
The soldiers were shot dead after they were captured in Shawal area of North Waziristan in a firefight on Sunday, a security official said on condition of anonymity.
Their bodies were found on Monday dumped in a stream. More than 30 militants were also killed in the fighting in Shawal, the official added.
The deaths of the soldiers came days after the Pakistani military claimed it had killed up to 90 militants in operations, using air power and artillery in the tribal areas.
The region has experienced a surge in violence since commandos stormed Islamabad's radical Lal Masjid (Red Mosque). More than 100 people were killed in the assault ordered by the leadership under President Pervez Musharraf.
Local tribesmen have carried out a series of retaliatory attacks on law enforcers in the aftermath of the storming operation, killing dozens of troops and police.
Meanwhile, four soldiers were injured on Tuesday when militants fired several rockets at two security checkpoints in North Waziristan.
In South Waziristan, 200 soldiers taken prisoner by Islamic fighters on August 30 are still being held hostage.
Concerned at the resurgence of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the tribal areas and the rise in cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, the United States has pressured Musharraf to step up military operations against the insurgents.