x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Clash kills 41 insurgents in Pakistan

More than 100 militants attack two security checkpoints in Pakistan, sparking intense fighting that leaves at least 41 insurgents and two soldiers dead.

PARACHINAR, PAKISTAN // More than 100 militants armed with rockets and automatic weapons attacked two security checkpoints in northwestern Pakistan today, sparking intense fighting that left at least 41 insurgents and two soldiers dead, officials said. The clashes were the latest violence in the Orakzai tribal region, where the military launched an operation in March to rout Pakistani Taliban fighters who have fled there to escape other offensives. Officials say more than 300 suspected militants have been killed in three weeks of constant air strikes and occasional ground clashes. The US has applauded Pakistan's push to go after militants in the volatile border area near Afghanistan. But American officials would like the country to do more to target those fighters who have been staging cross-border attacks against US and Nato troops in Afghanistan. Security forces successfully repelled the attacks early this morning against checkpoints in the villages of Shireen Dara and Sangrana in Lower Orakzai, local administrator Samiullah Khan said. Two soldiers were killed and three wounded in the fighting, he said. "More than 100 militants attacked the security checkpoint in Shireen Dara," Mr Khan said. "They fought a gun battle for two hours and fired several rockets." After the battles subsided, authorities found the bodies of 15 dead militants around the two checkpoints, said two intelligence officials. Insurgents removed the bodies of at least 26 others who were killed, they said. Fighter jets destroyed three militant hide-outs in Sangram village in Orakzai yesterday, killing 10 suspected insurgents, Mr Khan said. A day earlier, similar strikes killed nearly 100 suspected militants in the Orakzai and Khyber tribal areas, according to officials.

* AP