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Pakistan Beats Back 2nd Militant Incursion


A Pakistani army soldier stands guards on a hilltop post in Hadambar, in Pakistan's Mohmand tribal region along the Afghan border, June 1, 2011.

A Pakistani army soldier stands guards on a hilltop post in Hadambar, in Pakistan's Mohmand tribal region along the Afghan border, June 1, 2011.

Pakistani artillery and helicopter gunships are swarming along the Afghan border, forcing back a second wave of insurgents who crossed over from Afghanistan to hit targets in Pakistan's tribal region.

Pakistani officials said Friday's counterattack had the Afghan militants on the run. They did not give any information on possible casualties.

Fierce fighting between Afghan-based militants and Pakistani forces has killed at least 65 people in recent days.

Police say the fighting began Wednesday at a checkpoint near a remote village in Pakistan's northwestern Dir tribal area, when militants crossed the border from Afghanistan's Kunar province.

Officials say the clashes killed at least 27 security personnel, three civilians and some 35 militants, but the information could not be verified independently because the region is largely off-limits to journalists.

Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir issued a statement Thursday, stressing the need for the Afghan army, United States and NATO forces to take "stern action" against militants and their hideouts in Afghanistan.

Taliban and al-Qaida linked militants have strongholds on both sides of the porous Afghan-Pakistani border.

The fighting comes as a top Pakistani army commander said the military has no plans to launch an offensive against Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik refuted media reports earlier this week that said the military was planning such an operation at the request of the United States. He said Pakistan will undertake that type of offensive when it is in the country's national interest.

Militants have launched a number of attacks against Pakistani security forces following the May 2 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

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