Pakistan's northwest border with Afghanistan has for years been a stomping ground for extremists, some of whom focus on attacks against Western forces across the border, and others who prefer to attack the Pakistani state because of its ties to the United States. — File Photo

PESHAWAR: Hundreds of heavily armed Taliban besieged a Pakistani checkpost on the Afghan border for a second day Thursday, killing 28 security officials and six civilians in the deadliest fighting for months.

Forty-five militants were also killed in the ensuing clash, a DawnNews report said.

A senior police official told AFP that 500 militants, including Afghan Taliban from across the border and Pakistani Taliban, took part in the attack which began before dawn on Wednesday and continued more than 24 hours later.

Officials said the militants targeted the Shaltalu checkpoint, surrounded by mountains and forest in the northwestern district of Upper Dir, about six kilometres from the border with Afghanistan's Kunar province.

The Pakistani military sent reinforcements to the police checkpost, deploying helicopter gunships in a bid to quell the attack in an area accessible on the ground only by foot.

“We have regained control of most of the area but fighting is still going on in some parts near the checkpost, which was attacked by around 500 Pakistani and Afghan Taliban,” regional police chief Qazi Jamilur Rehman told AFP.

He said 34 people were killed in the attack, including 28 policemen and six civilians, among them two women and two children, who died when mortar rounds struck nearby houses. He had earlier put the death toll at 28.

“Twelve houses were hit by mortar shelling. Militants are now on the run and we are confident to be in control of the entire area by this evening,” he said.

Rehman said more than 20 police were wounded, but he had no information on casualties among the Taliban. By early afternoon, residents and a local official said thuds of gunfire could be heard intermittently in the area.

“Frontier Corps (paramilitary) troops, army helicopters and artillery and police personnel are taking part in the operation,” said Rehman.

An Afghan police official in Kunar told AFP he was aware that the Taliban or other militiamen had launched attacks “on the other side of the border” and said they had no connection to Afghan government security forces.

Upper Dir is part of Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and borders the region where the military waged a major offensive to put down a local Taliban insurgency in Lower Dir, Buner and Swat in 2009.

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