(photo credit: AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)
PARACHINAR, Pakistan — Dozens of militants attacked a security convoy in an area near Afghanistan where Pakistan declared the Taliban defeated, sparking a battle that killed six soldiers and 40 militants, an official said Wednesday.Fifteen
soldiers also were wounded in the late Tuesday fighting, government
administration Samiullah Khan said.
The clash in Orakzai tribal region illustrated the challenge facing Pakistan as it responds to US pressure and tries to oust Islamist insurgents hiding along the Afghan border. Its declarations of success in some parts have often been premature.
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The army's offensive in Orakzai came on the heels of an operation
against the Pakistani Taliban in the South Waziristan tribal area. Many
militants in South Waziristan were believed to have fled to Orakzai,
though the top Pakistani Taliban leaders are believed to be in North
Waziristan, an area the Pakistani army has resisted attacking.
For months, the military pounded Orakzai with airstrikes, eventually
staging a ground operation as well. The offensive intensified in March,
with the reported daily death tolls of suspected militants sometimes in
Information from the region has been nearly impossible to verify
independently because Orakzai is remote, dangerous and access to it is
The army said June 1 that Orakzai had been cleared of militants and that
fleeing civilians could expect to return home soon. More than 200,000
people are believed to have poured out of the area since the end of last
The US has praised Pakistan for pursuing army operations against
militant groups on its territory. In part, that's because it does not
want Pakistan to be a sanctuary for militants battling US and NATO
forces in Afghanistan.
Also Wednesday, government official Maqsood Khan said militants attacked
two security checkpoints in Mohmand, another part of the tribal belt
that has endured army operations. The overnight attack sparked
gunbattles that killed two soldiers and six insurgents and wounded
several from both sides.