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Pakistan: Firefight Near Afghan Border Kills 4 Troops, 7 'Terrorists'

FILE - A soldier stands guard along the border fence outside the Kitton outpost on the border with Afghanistan in North Waziristan, Pakistan, Oct. 18, 2017.

Pakistan said Wednesday a counterterrorism military raid near the border with Afghanistan has killed at least four soldiers, including an officer, and seven “terrorists.”

An army statement said the “intelligence-based” security action in the North Waziristan border district sparked an intense firefight “as soon as troops cordoned the area” that housed the terrorist hideout.

The clash also injured one soldier and security forces recovered a large cache of arms, ammunition as well as improvised explosives devices, the military said.

The Waziristan region has for long been known as a hub of militants linked to local and transnational terrorist groups blamed for attacks in Pakistan and against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.

A nearly 2,600-kilometer largely porous border separates the countries. It had long encouraged militant infiltration in both directions.

Pakistan, under international pressure, launched a major counter-militancy ground and air military offensive in 2014. Officials say the security action has since dismantled terrorism infrastructures and cleared most of the border district and surrounding areas of militants.

A Pakistani military-led unilateral construction effort is currently also under way, installing a robust fence and building new outposts as well as forts to stop illegal infiltration in either direction.

The border security project of roughly $500 million went into action nearly four years ago and is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

Military officials say they hope the fence, once completed, would address mutual terrorism concerns and help improve Pakistan’s traditionally strained ties with Afghanistan.

Allegations that the Pakistani military supports and shelters Taliban leaders are at the center of long-running bilateral tensions and mistrust. Pakistan rejects the charges and in turn accuses the Afghan spy agency of providing refuge to militants waging terrorist attacks against the Pakistani state.