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Clash in Northwest Pakistan Kills 30

  • VOA News

At least 30 people, mostly militants, have been killed in a clash with security forces in Pakistan's northwest.

Officials say militants ambushed soldiers Tuesday in the Ghaljo area of the Orakzai tribal agency. At least two soldiers were killed and 16 others were wounded in the resulting fighting.

The military has been conducting operations against Taliban-linked militants in the region. On Sunday, jets bombed several hideouts in Orakzai, killing at least 10 suspected militants.

Across the border, Afghan officials say an Afghan post came under fire from Pakistan on Tuesday. The border police chief, Edris Momand, told reporters one person was killed and five were wounded in the shelling attack. The incident comes amid growing tension between the two neighbors, with Afghanistan and Pakistan blaming each other for not doing enough to combat militants in the porous border area.

In addition to military offensives in Orakzai, Khyber and other tribal agencies - the United States has long pressed Pakistan to go after Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants in nearby North Waziristan. The tribal agency is said to be a stronghold of the militant Haqqani network, blamed for several attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials have resisted launching an operation in North Waziristan, saying their forces are already stretched too thin.

But in an interview Monday with the Associated Press news agency, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Pakistan's military chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has told U.S. military officials that Pakistan plans to launch operations against Taliban-linked militants in North Waziristan soon.

Panetta told AP, "frankly, I'd lost hope that they [Pakistan] were going to do anything about it. But it does appear that they in fact are going to take that step."

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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