55 dead as Taliban storm Pak posts
ISLAMABAD (PAN): Thirty-five security men and 20 insurgents were killed during fierce gunbattles in the Chitral district of Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Saturday, the army said.
Hundreds of militants, sneaking from Afghanistan's eastern Kunar and Nuristan province, stormed security checkpoints of the Frontier Scouts and border police early in the morning, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
Associated with groups led by Fazlullah and Faqir Mohammad, the attackers had crossed the border with the help of the Afghan Taliban, the ISPR said, adding 25 paramilitary troops and 10 border police were killed in the assault, the latest in a spate of cross-border incursions.
Twenty attackers were also killed when the forces retaliated. An officer of the Frontier Scouts, Capt. Khurram, told Pajhwok Afghan News hundreds of heavily armed militants launched simultaneous attacks on their several check-posts.
Reinforcements could not reach border police due to the closure of the highway, he said.
A local reporter, Gul Hamad Farooqi, said 250 guerrillas were involved in the predawn assaults. The first attack targeted the scouts. When police came to the Scouts rescue, they also suffered heavy casualties, he added.
Minister for border affairs, Shaukatullah, said a ban had been imposed on movements in the area and a search operation for the attackers launched.
The militants seized control of a local village after attacking the security checkpoints, local police officials said. Pakistani troops called in helicopter gunships to drive the militants back.
Chitral is located across the border with Nuristan and Kunar, both of which house significant numbers of fighters. The US largely pulled out of the area about a year ago but has recently deployed additional troops.
Pakistan complained earlier this summer that militants coming from Afghanistan had killed at least 55 members of security forces and tribal police in a spate of attacks, and demanded the US and Afghan forces do more to stem the flow of fighters.
Afghanistan has also complained that Pakistan fired more than 750 rockets into eastern Afghanistan earlier this summer that killed at least 40 people.
The Pakistan army denied it intentionally fired rockets into Afghanistan, but acknowledged that several rounds fired at militants conducting cross-border attacks may have landed over the border.
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