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Militants Kill 9 Pakistani Troops in Ambush

Militants have ambushed Pakistani forces in the country's northwest tribal region, killing at least nine soldiers.

Monday's attack took place in the Aka Khel area of Khyber Agency along the Afghan border.

Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said the paramilitary troops were conducting a search operation when they came under attack.

Officials say troops retaliated, sparking a gunbattle in which 14 militants were killed.

Earlier on Monday, Abbas told Reuters news agency that Afghan and coalition forces have failed to target militants who have been crossing from neighboring Afghanistan, and attacking villages and security checkpoints in Pakistan's tribal region.

The Pakistani army spokesman said militants loyal to Taliban cleric Maulvi Fazlullah have killed 100 members of Pakistan's security forces in the last three months.

In an interview with VOA later on Monday, Abbas said Fazlullah was hiding out in eastern Afghanistan with the help of the local population, and that the Afghan National Army and the NATO-led force have failed to take action against him.

In Kabul, a spokesman for Afghanistan's intelligence agency, Lutfullah Mashal, disputed that claim, telling Reuters that no one has regrouped or settled in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's tribal region is a known stronghold for al-Qaida and Taliban-linked militants. The United States has urged Pakistan to go after militants based in the North Waziristan tribal agency, but the military says it must solidify gains made against militants elsewhere before launching an offensive there.

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