Wednesday, July 18, 2007

17 Pakistani Soldiers Killed in Ambush

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, July 18--Pro-Taliban insurgents ambushed a Pakistani military convoy near the Afghan border on Wednesday, sparking a gun-battle that left at least 17 soldiers and some rebels dead, the army said.

The fighting in the North Waziristan tribal region moved the government one step closer to an all-out war with insurgents in the area, who abandoned a 10-month-old peace treaty with the government on Sunday.

In Wednesday's attack, insurgents fired rockets at the convoy and then opened fire with automatic weapons near the village of Lwara Mundi, chief military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad Said.

The spokesman said seventeen soldiers were killed and 14 others were injured.

"Some miscreants were also killed in the exchange of fire," Arshad said, adding that security had been stepped up in the region.

The mountainous area where the ambush took place is near where Pakistani forces earlier this year erected the first 35-kilometer stretch of a controversial anti-Taliban fence along the border with Afghanistan.

The attack happened hours after a roadside bomb blast in North Waziristan injured six civilians and a soldier.

Separately a landmine exploded overnight outside the Miranshah home of politician Mohammad Ajmal Khan, who served as federal sports minister in the 1990s, destroying his front gate but causing no casualties, officials said.

A day earlier, a suicide blast in North Waziristan killed three soldiers and a civilian, while another attack in the capital Islamabad killed at least 15 people.