Militants armed with rockets and automatic weapons staged intense attacks against two security checkpoints in north-western Pakistan on Monday, sparking fighting that left at least 35 insurgents and two soldiers dead, officials said.
The clash marked the latest violence in the Orakzai tribal region, where the military launched an operation in March to rout Pakistani Taliban fighters who have fled there to escape other offensives. More than 300 suspected militants have been killed in three weeks of constant airstrikes and occasional ground clashes.
The U.S. has applauded Pakistan’s push to go after militants in the volatile border area near Afghanistan. But American officials would like the country to do more to target those fighters who have been staging cross—border attacks against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Security forces successfully repelled the attacks early Monday against checkpoints in the villages of Shireen Dara and Sangrana in Lower Orakzai, said local administrator Samiullah Khan. Three soldiers were wounded in the fighting, he said.
After the battles subsided, authorities found the bodies of 15 militants located around the two checkpoints, said two intelligence officials. Insurgents removed the bodies of at least 20 others who were killed, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Fighter jets destroyed three militant hide—outs in Sangram village in Orakzai on Sunday, killing 10 suspected insurgents, Khan said. A day earlier, similar strikes killed nearly 100 suspected militants in the Orakzai and Khyber tribal areas, according to officials.