Pakistan says 21 killed in Taleban clash

Pakistan says 21 killed in Taleban clash

Taleban gunmen stormed a Pakistani checkpoint in the country’s lawless tribal belt, killing one soldier and sparking clashes in which up to 20 militants died, officials said.

By (AFP)

Published: Tue 20 Sep 2011, 12:53 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:53 AM

Five soldiers and five civilians were also wounded after the militants attacked the Dabori post manned by paramilitary troops in the tribal district of Orakzai, the officials said.

‘At least 20 militants have been killed in the pre-dawn clash,’ a military official told AFP by telephone. Their bodies were spotted during a search carried out by helicopter gunships, he said, requesting anonymity.

There was no independent confirmation of the death toll because neither journalists nor aid workers are allowed free movement within the semi-autonomous tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

Local administration official Ehsanullah Khan told AFP that around 100 Taleban loyalists attacked the checkpoint.

‘They stormed the check post and killed one soldier and wounded five others,’ he said. A shell landed on a nearby house, injuring five civilians, Khan added.

Sporadic exchanges of gunfire continued late into the morning, he added.

The Pakistani military last year launched an operation against militants in Orakzai, which for two years was dominated by the Pakistani Taleban, blamed for most of the suicide and bomb attacks that routinely hit the country.

Orakzai is one of seven districts in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt which the United States has described as most dangerous region in the world and a global headquarters of Al Qaeda.

Pakistani Taleban chief Hakeemullah Mehsud served as commander of Orakzai before becoming leader of the umbrella faction after a US drone strike killed its founder Baitullah Mehsud.

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