Peshawar: At least five soldiers and 15 militants were killed in three separate incidents involving a gunfight and two bombings in northwestern Pakistan, officials said on Tuesday.
The gunfight erupted overnight at a checkpost of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) in Shireendara area of Orakzai district, one of Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal regions on the Afghan border.
“More than 50 militants attacked the checkpost. Two soldiers embraced shahadat [martrydom] while 15 terrorists were killed in an exchange of fire,” a senior security official told AFP.
He said six soldiers also sustained injuries in the attack, adding that the militants fled after the FC troops retaliated.
Another security official confirmed the incident and casualties.
Elsewhere, one soldier was killed and another wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their vehicle in the northwestern town of Bannu on Tuesday, a security official said.
Separately, a bomb planted on a roadside in restive Bajaur tribal district’s Chargoo village bordering Afghanistan killed two tribal security force personnel and wounded three others, local government official Sohail Khan told AFP.
The officials were overseeing the security arrangements for a door-to-door anti-polio vaccine in the region where Taliban militants are active, he added.
Pakistan is home to 85 per cent of polio cases around the world in 2014.
Conspiracy theories about the vaccine being a plot to sterilise Muslims have further added to the challenge the country faces in fighting the disease.
Since December 2012, at least 30 polio vaccinators have been killed in Pakistan, along with nearly 30 police and security personnel guarding them.
Pakistan has been battling Islamist groups in its semi-autonomous tribal belt since 2004, after its army entered the region to search for Al Qaida fighters who had fled across the border following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
In June the army began a major offensive against militant hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal agency after a bloody raid on Karachi Airport ended faltering peace talks between the government and the Taliban.
North Waziristan is a major base for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
The United States had long called for action against militant groups in North Waziristan, who have used the area as a staging post for attacks against Nato forces in Afghanistan.