Three Pakistani soldiers killed in gunfight with militants

July 15, 2014 - 5:37:32 pm

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Three Pakistani soldiers were killed Tuesday in a gunfight with militants during an army offensive against insurgent hideouts in a northwestern tribal area, the military said.

The clash happened near the town of Mirali in North Waziristan, where the army is in the midst of a major operation to clear the area of militants and their strongholds.

"Three soldiers embraced shahadat (martyrdom) and six others were injured in exchange of fire with terrorists while clearing area Fateh Khel near town of Mirali," the military said in a statement.

It said seven "terrorists" were also killed.

The area is off-limits to journalists, so the number and identity of those killed cannot be verified independently.

A security official told AFP that the army had begun ground operations in the Mirali and Dattakhel areas on Monday.

The military launched the long-awaited offensive last month to try to wipe out longstanding militant strongholds in North Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan.

Jets and artillery began hitting rebel targets on June 15 to try to regain full control of the district after years of pressure from Washington and other powers.

The assault was launched after a dramatic attack on Karachi airport which killed dozens of people and marked the end of a faltering peace process with the Pakistani Taliban.

More than 400 militants and 23 soldiers have been killed in the assault so far, according to the military. (AFP)