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13, including 3 troops, killed in border clashes

29 August, 2012

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PESHAWAR: Fresh clashes in Pakistan's north-western tribal areas along the Afghan border on Tuesday left three soldiers and 11 militants dead, security officials said.

The latest fighting occurred as part of a Pakistan Army operation to repel Taliban militants who had crossed over from Kunar province in Afghanistan earlier on Friday and occupied the village of Batwar in the Bajaur tribal district.

Officials said several soldiers were also missing in the clashes.

The fighting has so far left 50 dead, including 31 militants, three soldiers and two members of a government-backed peace committee.

"During the ongoing clashes in the Batwar border area of Bajaur, 11 militants were killed while several were injured," a senior security official based in Peshawar told AFP.

"Three security personal have also embraced shahadat (martyrdom) while some are missing," he said.

Pakistani troops arrested eight militants while "the dead bodies of some militants are in the custody of security forces," he added.

Another government official from Khar, the main town of the Bajaur tribal district, confirmed the latest fighting and new death toll. He requested anonymity, as he was not authorised to talk to the media.

The area is cut off to journalists and aid workers and it was not possible to confirm the death toll independently.

Bajaur is one of seven districts in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt, where Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants have carved out strongholds used to plot attacks on Pakistan.

Pakistan has lost more than 3,000 soldiers in the fight against home-grown insurgents but has resisted US pressure to do more to eliminate havens used by those fighting the Americans in Afghanistan.

End.

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