Seven Pakistani Soldiers, Nine Militants Dead In Waziristan Firefight, Military Says

Seven Pakistani soldiers and nine militants have been killed in a firefight in the mountains of North Waziristan near the Afghan border, the military says.

The seven soldiers, who included a captain, were killed in an "intense exchange of fire" after they raided militant hideouts near the Gharlamai and Spera Kunar Algad areas, the Pakistani Army's media wing said in a statement late on September 22.

It said nine militants were also killed in the battle and that the areas were now cleared by the army.

The report, which could not be independently confirmed, said the militants had infiltrated Pakistan by crossing the border from Afghanistan.

North Waziristan has long been a sanctuary for the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups.

Islamic militants had a substantial number of sanctuaries in North Waziristan until a 2014 Pakistani Army offensive, after which most militants escaped to Afghanistan.

Pakistan has come under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump, who has accused Islamabad of providing militants a safe haven in the country before and after carrying out attacks on U.S. and other forces in Afghanistan.

Washington has held back hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid, citing Pakistan’s lack of action against terrorists.

Pakistan rejects allegations it is not doing enough to fight terrorism and that it provides safe havens for militants operating in Afghanistan.

In southwestern Pakistan, gunmen early on September 23 attacked a base camp manned by a pro-government militia, killing four of its members, an official said.

Assistant Administrator Ali Mohammad said the attack took place in the Dasht-e Goran area of Balochistan.

No group has claimed responsibility.

Resource-rich Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, has been plagued by sectarian violence, Islamist militant attacks, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004.

With reporting by AP, dpa, and AFP