News / Asia

5 Soldiers, 21 Militants Die in Battle in Pakistan

Pakistan's army says five soldiers and at least 21 militants have been killed in a battle in the northwestern tribal region of Orakzai.

The army said militants attacked a post in the region early Friday, prompting security forces to retaliate.

The violence followed a series of air strikes that killed at least 50 people, most of them suspected militants, in Orakzai Thursday.  Local officials said the attacks targeted sites including an Islamic seminary (madrassa) and a school used by the Taliban.

Many militants are believed to have fled to Orakzai to escape a military offensive farther south.

Also Thursday, law enforcement authorities in the central city of Jhelum announced the arrest of two suspects in the kidnapping of a 5-year-old British boy, snatched from his family earlier this month.

Investigators say the suspects are part of a criminal gang linked to other crimes, including murders and kidnappings.

Kidnappers abducted Sahil Saeed from his grandparents' house on March 4 as robbers held the family at gunpoint.  He was released unharmed 12 days later, after his family paid kidnappers a ransom of about $150,000.  Authorities say they recovered most of the money.

Police in Spain and France have already arrested five people in connection with the kidnapping, including two Pakistani men and a Romanian woman.  Authorities say two of the suspects collected the ransom from the boy's father in Paris.

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

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