8 Soldiers, 10 Taliban Dead in Attack on Pakistani Checkpoint
Eight soldiers and at least 10 Taliban were killed after the militants attacked a Pakistani security checkpost in the lawless tribal belt before dawn Thursday, local security officials said.
More than 100 Taliban armed with rocket launchers and other sophisticated weapons raided the post in South Waziristan, along the Afghan border, triggering a firefight which lasted for more than three hours.
"Eight soldiers were killed and 10 were wounded in the attack. More than 10 Taliban were also killed in the retaliatory firing," a security official in Peshawar, the main town in northwest Pakistan, told Agence France Presse.
Another security official in Wana, the main town of the tribal district, confirmed the incident and the casualties.
The attack took place in Marubi, some 40 kilometers from the Afghan border. The area is next to North Waziristan, where the United States is pushing Pakistan to make an all-out military offensive.
Taliban and other al-Qaida-linked militants have carved out strongholds on both sides of the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border, a region that Washington has called one of the most dangerous places on Earth.
The Pakistani military carried out an offensive last year in parts of South Waziristan targeting the headquarters of the country's main Taliban faction, following an increase in militant bomb attacks in late 2009.
But many of the Taliban commanders and their foot-soldiers are believed to have fled into North Waziristan.
Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik, the Pakistan corps commander supervising all operations in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, last week played down "hype" about the prospect of an imminent offensive in North Waziristan.
"We will undertake operation in North Waziristan when we want to," he told reporters. Many analysts see multiple drone strikes on the area as compounding pressure on Pakistan to take action.
More than 4,400 people have been killed across Pakistan in attacks blamed on Taliban and other Islamist extremist networks based in the tribal belt since government troops stormed a radical mosque in Islamabad in 2007.