Pakistan army battles militants in NW, killing 19

PARACHINAR, Pakistan (AP) — The Pakistani military killed 19 militants in a late night battle for control of strategic mountain peaks in an area near the Afghan border, the army said Friday.

The fighting also claimed the lives of three soldiers, a military statement said.

The army said its troops captured two important mountain-top positions in an operation against Islamist extremists in the Para Chamkani area of Kurram tribal region and the Maidan area of Khyber tribal region.

The latest fighting, which took place on Thursday night, also wounded 12 militants and three soldiers, the military said. The statement added that local civilians cooperated fully with security forces and that village defense committees have been formed in the cleared area.

The Pakistani army has carried out many operations against militants in the northwest tribal regions, but the insurgents often regroup.

The tribal region is home to a wide range of Islamic militants, many of them linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban. The militant groups have used the area as a stronghold from which to wage war both in Afghanistan and against the Pakistani government.

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