Pakistani officials say pro-Taleban militants have killed at least seven local soldiers in an ambush Thursday in a troubled tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Officials say it was the deadliest attack in months in an area already wracked by armed conflict.

The militants ambushed the Pakistani troops Thursday morning in the North Waziristan tribal region, not far from the Afghan border.

Army spokesman General Shaukat Sultan says the troops came under heavy fire as they passed through a remote mountain village in area.

"The miscreants, taking cover of the nearby houses, they fired at the security forces, killing seven soldiers and injuring 22," he said.

He says the soldiers immediately launched a powerful counter attack that killed at least five militants.

Local residents say hundreds of soldiers are tracking the militants in and around the region's main town, Miran Shah, while helicopter gunships fly overhead.

The military is engaged in a long-term operation in the area targeting pro-Taleban and al-Qaida militants.

But there are growing concerns that the military's efforts are angering local residents and generating more support for the insurgents.

Recent clashes have left more than 250 people dead, including at least a dozen soldiers and a number of women and children.