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Forty militants killed in Orakzai clash

May 19, 2010


The army has stepped up attacks in the Orakzai and Khyber regions of the northwest in recent weeks. -Photo by Reuters

KALAYA, Pakistan More than 200 Pakistani Taliban attacked a security post in the northwestern region of Orakzai on Wednesday, triggering a clash in which at least 40 militants and two soldiers were killed, officials said.

The violence came as US National Security Adviser Jim Jones and CIA director Leon Panetta were in Pakistan to urge the government to step up pressure on militant groups following a botched May 1 car-bombing in New Yorks Time Square, a White House official said.

Pakistani forces have increased their attacks in the Orakzai and Khyber regions of the northwest in recent weeks after largely clearing Taliban strongholds in other areas.

The militants emerged out of forested mountains to attack the checkpoint in the Dobbari area soon after dawn, said a government official in the region, Nauman Khan.

“They first fired rocket-propelled grenades at our checkpost and then closed in and attacked,” said a military officer in the northwest who declined to be identified.

“We responded quickly and repulsed the attack after fierce fighting which lasted about three hours,” said the officer.

At least 40 militants as well as two soldiers were killed.

Twenty-two soldiers were wounded, he said.

There was no independent confirmation of the casualty toll and Taliban spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.