Fresh Pakistan fighting kills 12 militants: officials

Updated on Sep 29, 2008 06:57 PM IST

Pak troops and tribesmen kill 12 militants in fighting on the troubled Afghan border, as the two sides team up to fight extremists in the Taliban and al-Qaeda hub.

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AFP | By, Khar

Pakistani troops and tribesmen killed 12 militants in fighting on Monday on the troubled Afghan border, as the two sides teamed up to fight extremists in the Taliban and al-Qaeda hub.

Hundreds of Salarzai tribesmen have sided with the government and raised an army to drive out militants from the region of Bajaur, where the government launched a major offensive in August to defeat the Islamic militants.

The tribesmen had gone into Darra and were setting on fire the hideouts used by militants when they were attacked, a security official told AFP.

"Nine tribesmen and three militants, including their commander Abdul Mutlib, were killed in Darra village when Taliban ambushed the tribal force," a security official told AFP.

In another incident, about 50 rebels stormed a military checkpost late Sunday in Rashakai, 10 kilometres (six miles) north of the region's main town of Khar, sparking an hour-long gun battle, the official said earlier.

Troops in the post returned fire, while soldiers from the military headquarters in Khar fired artillery and mortar shells on insurgent positions, killing five militants, a senior security official told AFP.

Later Sunday, a group of about 40 militants raided a checkpost at Tang Khata, an abandoned village where the military took foreign journalists on a media trip last week, another official said.

Security forces retaliated and killed at least four militants, the official said, adding that two soldiers were wounded in the clash, which ended around dawn on Monday.

Helicopters were seen circling the region and artillery fire was heard in several towns on Monday, but there was no immediate report of new casualties, residents and officials said.

The army says more than 1,000 extremists have been killed in its six-week operation in Bajaur, including al-Qaeda's operational commander in the region, Egyptian Abu Saeed Al-Masri.

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