Taliban militants storm checkpoint in tribal region, killing four soldiers

Some 20 armed Taliban militants stormed a military checkpoint on Monday in Pakistan's Bajaur district near the Afghan border, killing four soldiers.


AFP - Taliban militants armed with rockets and guns stormed a military check post in Pakistan's tribal belt killing four soldiers, security and government officials said Monday.

The attack on Matak post in the Charmang area of Bajaur district near the Afghan border was mounted by about 20 militants overnight, they said.

"First they lobbed several rockets and then approached the post and opened fire with automatic weapons," local administration official Ghulam Saidullah told AFP by telephone.

Four security officials were killed and two wounded in the sudden assault, he added.

Security officials said troops retaliated, killing six Taliban militants and wounding four others.

Militants have recently stepped up activity in Bajaur, one of Pakistan's seven federally administered tribal areas (FATA) along the Afghan border, which is considered a stronghold of Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked extremists.

Some analysts have warned that the Taliban and their allies could step up attacks on security forces in Bajaur and elsewhere to divert the focus away from South Waziristan, where the military is pressing a major ground offensive.

The military in August 2008 launched a major operation against militants in Bajaur. In February, they claimed the area had been cleared, but militant violence continues to rock Bajaur.

Hundreds of extremists are believed to have fled Afghanistan into Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal areas to carve out safe havens after the ouster of the hardline Taliban regime in US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.


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