Pakistan clashes kill 11 soldiers, 24 militants (Second Lead)By IANS
Friday, December 24, 2010
ISLAMABAD - Fierce clashes between the Taliban militants and security personnel at five security checkposts in Pakistan’s restive northwest left 11 soldiers and 24 militants dead Friday, an official said.
Around 150 militants attacked the checkposts in a tribal area of Mohmand Agency in the wee hours of Friday, Online news agency reported quoting security sources.
The security forces launched a retaliatory operation with gunship helicopters. As a result, 26 militants and 11 paramilitary troopers killed. About a dozen militants and 10 troopers were also injured in the clashes, the sources said.
“Some 150 suspected militants conducted the raids and fired at five different security checkpoints after midnight,” Major Fazal Ur Rehman, a spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps, was quoted as saying by DPA. “Intense fighting ensued for hours.”
The report said the militants left the behind the bodies of their accomplices and fled. The bodies have been taken into custody by the security forces.
According to some tribal sources, several troopers were missing after the incident.
Meanwhile, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed the responsibility of the attacks. The outfit said that 12 security personnel were killed in the attack and six bodies of the soldiers are in their custody while two were captured alive.
According to Online, TTP spokesman Sajjad Mehmand told BBC that only two of their members were killed in the attacks. He said that the Taliban would also carry out similar attacks in the future.
Mohmand is a hotbed of local and foreign militants, and security forces have launched a campaign against them with the help of local tribesmen. The insurgents have responded by attacking and bombing government and pro-government officials.
Earlier this month, two suicide bombers attacked a meeting of pro-government tribal elders, killing at least 43 people, including 11 tribal policemen, and injuring more than 100.
At least 107 people were also killed and more than 100 injured when two suicide bombers attacked a gathering in the Yakaghund area of the district in July.
The militants are thought to move across the porous border with Afghanistan at leisure, using the district’s mountainous terrain to train, hide and launch attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Also Friday, suspected Islamist insurgents attacked a school with a remote-control bomb in the Palosai area of Peshawar, capital of the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, inuring two children and a teacher, DPA reported.
TV footage showed that at least two classrooms and the outer wall of the school were badly damaged.
No one took responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban have destroyed dozens of schools in the region.
Peshawar has witnessed a number of deadly attacks, but the security situation has improved in recent months because of regular operations by security forces in the area.