Clashes in NW Pakistan kill 9 troops, 37 militants

Clashes in NW Pakistan kill 9 troops, 37 militants
# 11 May 2010 01:09 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Army troops rooting out extremist militants in the country’s northwest clashed with Pakistani Taliban fighters on Monday, leaving nine troops and 37 militants dead, officials said, APA reports quoting “Associated Press”.
A group of more than 200 insurgents attacked the soldiers in the Orakzai tribal region, government official Samiullah Khan said.
Two intelligence officials and an army officer also confirmed the account. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information to the media.
Two officers were among those killed after hours of fighting, the military official said. Security forces had captured some key positions in the mountains and had been advancing toward the militants’ hub in Dabori when they came under heavy gunfire from multiple sides, he said.
Details of the clash were nearly impossible to verify independently — access to the tribal belt is difficult due to the dangerous, remote nature of the terrain and restrictions on traveling there.
Links between the recent Times Square bombing plot and the Pakistani Taliban have added to pressure on Islamabad to step up its army offensives along the Afghan border. Suspect Faisal Shahzad has reportedly told U.S. investigators he had visited Waziristan, which is near Orakzai and largely controlled by militant Islamists.
Pakistani army offensives since spring 2009 have pushed extremists from their former stronghold of South Waziristan into North Waziristan and other neighboring tribal areas.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said Pakistan has become far more helpful in battling extremists over the past year but that cooperation could be improved. She has also warned of "severe consequences" if an attack on U.S. soil is traced back to Pakistan.