MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) -At least eight Pakistani paramilitary soldiers were killed overnight when unidentified assailants attacked a checkpoint in a tribal region near the Afghan border.
The assailants, armed with rockets and assault rifles, attacked at about midnight at a post located at Mir Ali in North Waziristan district, a top military spokesman told AFP.
“Miscreants attacked a newly set up paramilitary post near Mir Ali last night which resulted in the deaths of eight security officials,” Major General Shaukat Sultan said Saturday.
He said nine paramilitary soldiers went missing after the attack, but three returned on Saturday. “Six are still missing, we hope they will be back soon.”
A local official said earlier that the paramilitary contingent had moved to the newly set up checkpoint Friday and security forces had launched a manhunt to track down the attackers.
Residents said paramilitary troops later surrounded a Eisa Khel village near the site of the attack and were asking residents to leave the area possibly to launch a search operation.
Separately tribal elders said eight people were killed when helicopters pounded a house in Saidgai village, 12 kilometers (around eight miles) north of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan district.
“Helicopters bombarded the house late Friday night, leaving eight people dead,” tribal elder Salimullah said.
He said nine people, including some women and children were injured in the attack.
Military spokesman Sultan said they were investigating reports relating to the Saidgai incident, but he did not have details.
“We have heard reports of firing and casualties and we are investigating,” he said.
Pakistani forces have been battling militants who sneaked across the mountainous border in late 2001 after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, and their local supporters.
Officials have said they drove out Al-Qaeda and foreign militants from neighbouring South Waziristan district in military operations in 2004 and last year.
They said a few hundred of them escaped to North Waziritsan.