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Pakistani Forces Kill At Least 15 Militants Near Afghan Border


Pakistani security forces have killed at least 15 pro-Taleban militants in the latest in a series of violent clashes near the Afghan border. Al-Qaida and Taleban linked insurgents are reportedly gaining ground in the volatile area, part of Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal region.

The assault followed a rocket attack on Pakistani security forces early Friday morning, reportedly launched by militants in the North Waziristan tribal area.

The rockets struck a soldiers' post not far from the Afghan border.

Pakistan officials confirm one guard was killed and at least four others injured.

Military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan says government forces mounted an immediate and powerful counterattack.

"The security forces repulsed the attack and then chased them and, as a result of that, about 15 to 20 militants have been killed," he said.

The General also said no bodies have been recovered so far and the insurgents' nationalities have not been established.

The fighting occurred near the region's main town, Miran Shah, where government forces and Islamic militants have fought a series of clashes in recent weeks.

Afghan and U.S. officials say Taleban and al-Qaida forces have established bases in the tribal area and there are mounting concerns the extremists have effectively seized control over much of the region.

Afghanistan has complained that Pakistan is not doing enough to curb militant activity in the area - a charge Islamabad rejects.

On Thursday President Musharraf warned foreign militants hiding in Pakistan to either leave the country or be killed.

Pakistan, a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terror, has already deployed some 80,000 troops to secure the border area.

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