Five Taliban militant killed in Pak tribal region
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, Apr 5: Five pro-Taliban militants and three paramilitary troops were killed in a fierce clash in a mountain valley in Pakistan's restive tribal region, officials said today.
Military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan said the firefight erupted in the Shawal area of the North Waziristan tribal region after militants attacked a paramilitary post late on Tuesday night.
Tensions have been running high in North Waziristan since clashes last month in which around 200 tribesmen were killed. The tribesmen were answering a call to arms by militant Muslim clerics following a special forces attack on an al Qaeda camp.
''So far, five deaths are confirmed from the miscreants' side.
It may be higher than this,'' Sultan told Reuters of Tuesday's violence. He said 15 militants also surrendered.
Sultan said fierce fighting was going on to drive out militants holed up in fortress-like compounds.
''Helicopter gunships have been flying in and out of Miranshah towards Shawal since morning,'' a resident of Miranshah said.
Shawal, an upland valley with forests and meadows, is about 50 km west of Miranshah. Officials say the area is used as a safe haven by militants who escaped military operations in neighbouring South Waziristan region in 2004. Hundreds of security forces and militants were killed in those battles.
Intelligence officials said three troopers were injured in a separate attack in the nearby Datta Kheil area.
On Monday, five people were killed in a landmine explosion and two militants died in a clash with security forces in the area.
President Pervez Musharraf, a key ally in the US-led war on terrorism, last month warned foreign militants hiding in the tribal region to leave Pakistan or face annihilation.
A large number of al Qaeda remnants and Taliban fled to Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt after US-led forces toppled the radical Taliban regime in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington and New York.