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Pakistan clash kills six soldiers, 30 Taliban

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PESHAWAR, Six Pakistani soldiers were killed Tuesday when Taliban militants stormed a checkpoint in the northwest, prompting a retaliatory strike by the army that left 30 insurgents dead, officials said.


Armed Pakistani Taliban gather at a hideout in the semi-autonomous tribal district of Orakzai in 2009. …

The clash took place in the village of Karonchi in Orakzai district, part of a semi-autonomous tribal belt where the military has been waging an anti-Taliban offensive since late March.

Eight soldiers were wounded in addition to the six dead, a spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps said.

He said the militants were armed with heavy weapons and that troops responded with heavy artillery, as a result of which “at least 30 insurgents were killed.”

Local administration official Sajjad Ahmed confirmed the casualties and said dozens of armed militants were involved in the attack.

Independent confirmation of the casualty figures was not possible however because the area is a closed military zone inaccessible to aid workers and journalists.

Pakistani forces opened a new front in Orakzai on March 24 in an attempt to flush out Taliban who escaped a major assault last year on South Waziristan, a headquarters for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership.

The TTP is a major force behind a bombing campaign that has killed 3,300 people across Pakistan in three years. The group attracted global attention when it was blamed by the United States for a failed car bomb plot in New York on May 1.

Washington says Pakistan’s tribal belt, which lies outside direct government control, is an Al-Qaeda headquarters and a stronghold of militants plotting attacks on US-led troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Pakistan last week declared an end to major combat operations in the region.

A military spokesman in Peshawar said lower Orakzai was now under government control, while intelligence sources said troops were engaged in the more volatile central and upper Orakzai areas.

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