Four Pakistani soldiers have been killed in gun battles between security forces and al-Qaida-linked militants in mountains near the border with Afghanistan.

A military spokesman says the battles took place after army helicopter gunships began pounding a suspected militant hideout in the North Waziristan tribal region late on Thursday, following an earlier clash with militants.

He says besides the four deaths, several Pakistani soldiers were wounded. The militants were also believed to have suffered heavy casualties.

Pakistan has been trying to clear its semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border of militants for the past two years. Hundreds of militants and Pakistani soldiers have been killed in clashes.

Many al-Qaida militants and their Taleban allies were believed to have slipped into Pakistan after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taleban government in Afghanistan four years ago.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.