ISLAMABAD — Pakistani soldiers and the Taliban exchanged intense fire in a restive tribal region along the border with Afghanistan, with each side claiming to have inflicted severe damages on the other.
The army said it repelled an attack by militants who sneaked across the border from Afghanistan and targeted two Pakistani checkpoints in the South Waziristan tribal region, where the military has been conducting operations since mid-2014 to rout militants from the area. It also said it killed three of the attackers and that several militants were wounded as they fled back across the porous boundary.
The Taliban claimed the responsibility in an emailed statement, describing it as revenge for a recent suspected U.S. drone strike that targeted the insurgents in neighbouring North Waziristan tribal region.
The statement said about 120 Taliban fighters took part in the raid, which triggered an hour-long shoot-out that allegedly caused much damage.
The Taliban frequently exaggerate battlefield successes. The reports were impossible to independently verify because the tribal region is inaccessible to reporters.
Pakistan has launched several operations against local and foreign al-Qaida fighters, the Taliban and other Islamic militants in the tribal regions along the Afghan border where they have long found safe havens.
Islamabad alleges that Pakistani militants hide across the border in Afghanistan, from where they plot attacks inside Pakistan. Kabul denies Pakistani allegations that it condones the militant sanctuaries.
Associated Press Writer Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Islamil Khan, Pakistan, contributed to this report.
Asif Shahzad, The Associated Press