Authorities in Pakistan say a military helicopter crashed in a border region, killing eight officers, including a top army commander.  Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.

The Pakistani military helicopter went down in the rugged South Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border.

Authorities say all the people on board, including a top military commander Major-General Javed Sultan, have died in the crash.

The Pakistani border region has seen intense clashes between security forces and Taliban as well as al-Qaida militants hiding there.

But army spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas has ruled out suggestions militants might have brought down the aircraft, saying the crash was an accident. 

"As far the initial report, it is probably because of a technical fault in the helicopter," Abbas said.

Intense clashes between security forces and militants have left scores of people dead in recent weeks.

The news of the helicopter crash came hours after militants declared a cease-fire in the Waziristan region, saying the Pakistani government is showing "leniency" over the past several days in its military operations.

But military spokesman General Abbass says he is not aware of the reported cease-fire or any contacts between militants and government officials.  He says the fighting has subsided, but the military operations in the tribal region will continue until militants and their bases are eliminated.

The militants in the Waziristan region are being led by Baitullah Mehsud, who is accused of plotting the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December.