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Pakistan forces, militants clash near Afghan border

Written by: Staff
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MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, March 4 (Reuters) Fierce fighting broke out today between Pakistani security forces and pro-Taliban militants in a tribal region near the Afghan border, residents said.

The fighting erupted after the militants seized a government building in Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan region.

''A heavy exchange of fire is going on between the two sides. At least three helicopter gunships are also being used by the army,'' a resident said.

''We don't know about losses because it is dark and there is no electricity or telephone available,'' he said.

The fighting erupted in Miranshah and nearby areas as US President George W Bush was visiting Pakistan for talks with President Pervez Musharraf on the war on terrorism.

It underlined the problems Musharraf faces in the semi-autonomous ethnic Pashtun tribal area.

The Pakistani army said 45 militants suspected of links to al Qaeda were killed in a security force raid on a hideout in the same area on Wednesday.

Military officials were not immediately available for comment on the today's violence.

REUTERS PM PM2054

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