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Three soldiers killed in Pakistan suicide attack: Officials

At least three soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in restive northwestern Pakistan, officials said.

world Updated: Aug 16, 2009 12:17 IST

At least three soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in restive northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, officials said.

The attack took place near a military checkpost in Waliabad village the Swat valley, where the military has been battling Taliban insurgents.

"A suicide bomber blew up his vehicle near a military checkpost in Waliabad village, killing at least three soldiers," a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

He added that two soldiers were killed on the spot while another died of his injures in hospital.

Swat police chief Sajid Mohmand confirmed the attack and said five people, most of them soldiers, were also wounded in the attack.

Meanwhile, the military said it killed eight militants and arrested two others during the ongoing operation in Swat.

"Security forces conducted a search operation at Deari area, near Kanju village in Swat, and killed eight terrorists," the military said in a statement on Saturday.

It added that an insurgent surrendered to security forces in Sakhra while another was arrested in Amluk village.

Swat slipped out of government control after radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah mounted a violent campaign in which his followers beheaded opponents, burnt schools and fought government troops to enforce sharia law.

The Pakistani army launched an offensive in late April to dislodge Taliban guerrillas from the districts of Buner, Lower Dir and Swat after rebels flouted a peace deal and marched further south towards the capital, Islamabad.

Pakistan says more than 1,800 militants and over 160 security personnel have been killed in the offensive since late April but the death tolls are impossible to verify independently.

Last month Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced that the military had "eliminated" extremists. According to government figures, 385,000 civilians have returned out of 1.9 million people displaced by the fighting.

But skirmishes have continued, raising fears that the Taliban are regrouping in the mountains, a tactic militants have adopted after previous offensives.

Elsewhere in North Waziristan tribal region, one soldier was killed and two others wounded when a convoy of security forces came under attack.

"Taliban militants fired rockets on a convoy of security forces in Ghulam Khan area near Miran Shah from nearby mountains, killing one soldier and wounding two others," local police official Naeem Khan told AFP.

A senior security official in the area also confirmed the attack and said the army pounded artillery on militant hideouts after the assault.