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7 Pakistani Troops Killed in Bomb Attack, Firefight

North and South Waziristan, Khyber, Pakistan

Military officials in Pakistan say a firefight with Islamist militants near the border with Afghanistan Sunday left four soldiers and 12 insurgents dead.

The army’s media wing says “fleeing terrorists also left behind 3 of their dead bodies."

The fighting occurred in the Dattakhel area of North Waziristan, a semi-autonomous tribal region where major counter-militancy army operations are under way.

Earlier, a roadside bomb in the same region killed three paramilitary soldiers and wounded six others. Officials say the attack in Raghzai village targeted a military convoy.

Pakistan’s military says the year-long counter-militancy campaign in Waziristan and surrounding areas has so far killed nearly 3,000 insurgents while more than 350 troops also died.

Army commanders say the offensive is now in its final stages and is trying to eliminate the remaining few militant pockets. But independent verification of the official claims is difficult to ascertain.

The operation is targeting the Pakistani Taliban, an alliance of extremist outfits waging a bloody insurgency against the state.

Army officials acknowledge that troops are meeting fierce resistance in the Shawal Valley of North Waziristan where fugitive commanders and fighters of the Afghan Taliban until recently were entrenched and organizing cross-border attacks.

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