A month of fierce fighting near the Afghan border has killed about 250 militants and 60 Pakistani troops, the army said Friday, hours after the deaths of six soldiers in a suicide attack and roadside bombing.
Pakistan, a key ally of the United States in fighting terrorism, has deployed about 90,000 troops in the border region to try to contain al-Qaida and Taliban militants and their local supporters, who often target security forces. President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is under growing pressure from Washington to crack down on militants in the area.
Violence has surged in the region since July, when militants scrapped a September 2006 peace deal after accusing the government of violating the agreement by deploying more troops and targeting their hideouts.
“In the past one month, we lost about 60 soldiers in suicide and other attacks,” Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad told The Associated Press. “We security forces also killed about 250 miscreants during this period.”
Suicide car bomber
In the latest violence, suspected Islamic militants drove an explosives-laden car into a military convoy and detonated a roadside bomb Friday, killing six soldiers and wounding five more, officials said.
The suicide car bomber struck on a road near Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan, killing five soldiers, a local security official said.
Hours later, a roadside bomb exploded near another military convoy in the nearby village of Razmak, killing at least one soldier, the official said.
Arshad confirmed the attacks and casualties, but provided no details.
The official, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media, told The AP that troops rushed from Miran Shah to the scene of attacks, and that authorities were trying to cordon off the area to catch any accomplices.
Earlier Friday, rebels fired several rockets at a military checkpoint in Miran Shah, wounding two soldiers, the official said. Troops responded with mortars, rockets and assault rifles, but it was unclear whether the militants suffered any casualties.
The latest attack came two days after a rocket attack killed four soldiers in Bannu, a troubled town just east of North Waziristan.