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Taliban in a northwestern Pakistani town. — Photo by AP

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Taliban militants beheaded two Pakistani soldiers and hung their heads from wooden poles in a town in the country's northwest on Monday, a day after they killed nine soldiers in an ambush there, officials said.

The killings in Miramshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal area, highlight the dilemma facing the Pakistani military in dealing with the most important militant sanctuary in the country.

North Waziristan is a key base for the Pakistani Taliban, which have waged a bloody battle against the government and its security forces over the past several years.

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On Sunday, the Taliban ambushed a security checkpoint in Miramshah, killing nine Pakistani soldiers, the army said. Militants had been firing on the checkpoint for the past few days before they ambushed it, the army added.

The army retaliated with helicopter gunships, which pounded suspected militant hideouts and also hit three houses and a mosque in the town, said intelligence officials. Three civilians were killed and 20 were wounded in the helicopter attacks, they said. It's unclear how many militants were killed.

A Taliban commander said the military raided two houses in Miramshah on Sunday night, killing a militant commander and several of his colleagues. The militants seized two soldiers during the raids, beheaded them and hung their heads in different parts of Miramshah, said the commander.

The intelligence officials did not specify how the soldiers were seized, but confirmed that their heads were hanging from poles in Miramshah.

The officials and the Taliban commander spoke on condition of anonymity on Monday because they were not authorised to talk to the media.

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