The clash took place when up to 40 militants stormed a check post in the tribal region. — Photo by Reuters

PESHAWAR: Up to 40 militants armed with guns and rockets stormed a check post in the tribal district of Mohmand, killing three soldiers and wounding four in an area where troops are battling to eliminate insurgents.

A military official said troops killed 15 militants in a counter-attack at the paramilitary Frontier Corps post in Mohmand’s Anargi area.

Pakistan's northwest and tribal areas have been wracked by violence, mostly targeting security officials, since hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters sought refuge there after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The military has claimed victory in a number of battles against militants, perhaps most notably in 2009 in the Taliban's former headquarters of South Waziristan, but attacks have continued across the country.

Washington has said eliminating militant sanctuaries in Pakistan's tribal belt, particularly North Waziristan, is vital to winning the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and defeating al Qaeda.

But General David Rodriguez, deputy US commander in Afghanistan, said Tuesday that US-led Nato forces can still win the war if Pakistan does not move against militant havens.

“We're going to encourage them to do more because that makes it easier on what we're doing. But I think it's still doable, without them decreasing what they've been doing, which is significant,” he said.

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