Source AP ©

Two hundreds and fifty militants, 60 troops killed in month in Pakistan

At least 250 militants and 60 Pakistani troops were killed in a month of fierce fighting near the Afghan border.

"In the past one month, we lost about 60 soldiers in suicide and other attacks," Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad told The Associated Press. He added that security forces also killed about 250 militants in the same period.

Under pressure from the United States to take a tougher line against al-Qaida and Taliban militants, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf sent thousands more troops into their strongholds in the remote frontier region in July.

The fighting has been particularly intense in the North Waziristan tribal region, where militants pulled out of a September peace deal that critics said allowed extremists to take control.

On Friday, the army said a suicide car bomb and a roadside blast targeting military convoys in North Waziristan killed six soldiers and wounding 17 more, officials said.

The suicide attacker 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 went off near another convoy in the nearby village of Razmak, killing at least one soldier, said the official.

Arshad confirmed the fatalities, but provided few details.

The official, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media, said troops rushed from Miran Shah to the scene of attacks, and that authorities were trying to cordon off the area to catch any accomplices.

The dead and injured were taken to a nearby hospital, he said.

Earlier Friday, rebels fired several rockets at a 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.

Pakistan, a key ally of the United States in its war on terror, has about 90,000 troops in the border region tasked with countering al-Qaida and Taliban militants and their local supporters, some of whom support attacks on NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

U.S. officials have also expressed concern that al-Qaida is regrouping in the area, considered a possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden, and could be planning major attacks in the West.

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