Khar (Pakistan), May 4: Three Pakistani policemen were killed in a suspected Taliban attack on a checkpoint near the Afghan border in the latest violent response to government efforts to rid the region of militants.
Pakistan has sent 80,000 troops to tribal areas on the border to flush out foreign militants and subdue their Pakistani allies but they have faced stiff opposition from Pashtun tribesmen who sympathise with the militants and resent the army's presence.
Militants attacked a checkpost about 3 km from the Afghan border last night, in the Bajaur tribal region opposite Afghanistan's Kunar province where US forces are battling militants.
''An exchange of fire continued for more than half an hour which left three policemen dead,'' said a government official who declined to be identified.
No one claimed responsibility but residents said they uspected Taliban militants were behind it.
An intelligence official said one of the attackers was captured but it was still unclear who was responsible.
Many al Qaeda and their Taliban allies fled to Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt after US and Afghan opposition forces ousted the Taliban in late 2001, weeks after the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Al Qaeda's kingpin Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al Zawahri, are believed to be hiding in the rugged border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.