MIRAMSHAH, June 29 Clashes between security forces and militants intensified in North Waziristan on Monday and the Taliban scrapped a peace deal they had signed with the government 16 months ago.

Security officials said that 27 soldiers had lost their lives on Sunday in an attack on a military convoy in Wacha Bibi near Datakhel, about 35 kilometres west of Miramshah.

Local people said the place where the convoy had been attacked was littered with wrecked army vehicles. Army personnel retrieved the wounded and the bodies of their fighters and shifted them to Islamabad.

On Monday, helicopters pounded suspected militant positions in Wacha Bibi, a narrow pass in the mountainous region. According to officials, five civilians were killed in the shelling.

The announcement about the scrapping of the nine-point peace agreement signed by the government with elders of the Utmanzai tribe on Feb 17 last year was made by the local Taliban Shura.

Ahmadullah Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Taliban, told journalists on phone that the shura had decided to continue guerrilla activities till the drone attacks were stopped and the government withdrew troops from North Waziristan.

“We will attack forces everywhere in Waziristan unless the government fulfils these two demands,” he said, adding that the government had allowed the United States to carry out drone attacks in the tribal region.

The government claims that the peace accord was signed with tribal elders and not with the Taliban led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Saddiq Noor.

Under the agreement, militants had agreed to stop target killings and attacks on security forces. No one would be allowed to set up a parallel administration in the area and all issues and disputes would be resolved in accordance with the Frontier Crimes Regulation and in consultation with the political agent.

Elders of the Utmanzai tribe had also assured the government that there would be no cross-border movement of militants and foreigners would be expelled from the area.

Sources said the elders had failed to curb militants' activities in the region and the agreement had become dysfunctional.

Irfan Mughal in Dera Ismail Khan adds Two militant commanders were killed and five captured during an operation in Tank district on Monday.

Officials said that security forces had cordoned off Garra Badha and Sabirabad areas after receiving information that some militant commanders were hiding there.

Troops raided houses in Mohallah Khurdianwala and arrested seven militants, including Ikramullah, younger brother of militant commander Hayatullah Shah Bukhari, and local commander Rasheed Khan.

However, Ikramullah and Rasheed Khan were killed when the militants resisted security personnel who were taking them away. The militants who died were reported to be affiliated with the Baitullah Mehsud group.

The bullet-riddled body of militant Subhan was found on the Tank-Jandola road.

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