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Pakistan: 58 die in day-long border clash

[ 2011-06-03 10:40]     字号 [] [] []  
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A day-long clash between militants from Afghanistan who crossed the border and attacked a Pakistani checkpoint left 23 troops and 35 insurgents dead, police said on Thursday, underscoring the challenges facing Pakistan as it tries to stamp out insurgents in its northwest.

The fighting came as a top Pakistani general said the military plans to stage an operation against militants in a tribal region that juts deep inside Afghanistan, but denied media reports of an upcoming offensive in North Waziristan, the tribal area where the US has been pushing for action.

Pakistan's northwest border with Afghanistan has for years been a stomping ground for Islamist extremists, some of whom focus on attacks against Western forces across the border, and others who prefer to attack the Pakistani state because of its ties to the United States.

Pakistan has taken action against the latter groups, but they've retained the ability to strike back, partly because the border is so porous and insurgents under attack can easily cross from side to side.

The clash that began on Wednesday and wound down on Thursday occurred in Shaltalo town in Upper Dir district. Upper Dir lies just outside the tribal belt, but it too has witnessed al-Qaida and Taliban militant activity and been the focus of military offensives.

Police said some 200 militants crossed over into Pakistan from Afghanistan, and went after a checkpoint manned by police and paramilitary troops. At least 23 Pakistani security troops died and three were wounded, while 35 militants were killed, police official Johar Khan said.

The situation was under control as of noon on Thursday, and funerals were being arranged for the dead security forces, he said.

On Wednesday, army Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik, who oversees military operations in the tribal areas and other parts of the northwest, said the Kurram tribal area would be the next target of an offensive after local leaders there requested it.

Malik said operations would be launched there with the government's backing, but declined to give any more operational details.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Pakistan: 58 die in day-long border clash

About the broadcaster:

Pakistan: 58 die in day-long border clash

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.