Soldier, 5 militants killed in clash in NW Pakistan

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Five suspected militants and an army soldier were killed in a clash in northwest Pakistan on Monday, the army said.

A group of militants, according to the Pakistan Army's media wing, attacked military checkpoint near Miramshah, the capital of North Waziristan district, which borders neighboring Afghanistan.

In exchange of fire, it added, a troop was killed and another three got injured. Five suspected terrorists were also killed in the clash — latest in a series of similar incidents in the region.

North Waziristan — once dubbed the heartland of militancy — is one of seven former semi-autonomous tribal regions in Pakistan where the army has conducted a series of operations since 2014 to eliminate the Pakistani Taliban's mother coalition, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

More than 5,000 suspected militants and over 700 soldiers have been killed in aerial strikes, clashes, and landmine blasts over the past six years. The figures, however, could not be independently verified as media access to the former tribal areas is restricted.

The successive operations have pushed the TTP towards neighboring Afghanistan, and Islamabad claims the terrorist network has now set up bases across the border to attack Pakistani security forces.

The military operation has also displaced over a million people, but the government claims 95% of them have returned to their homes.

The areas, including North Waziristan, have recently been given the status of districts and merged with the Khyber Pakhtukhwa province.