May 10, 2010 / 12:29 PM / in 9 years

Pakistani soldiers clash with Taliban, 40 dead

KALAYA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Ten soldiers and 30 Taliban militants were killed in a clash on Monday after militants ambushed a military search team in Pakistan’s Orakzai region, a government official said.

In recent weeks, Pakistan has mounted an anti-militant drive in the northwest after al Qaeda-linked militants were largely rooted out from their strongholds in the tribal lands near the Afghan border and Swat over the past year.

The latest fighting took place in the Taliban stronghold of Daburi, about 16 km (10 miles) west of Orakzai’s main town Kalaya, the government official, Asghar Khan, told Reuters.

“The government forces entered the area yesterday and today they were carrying out searches when militants attacked and killed 10 soldiers,” he said.

Khan said 30 militants were killed in the clash that lasted for several hours.

A senior security official, who declined to be identified, put the militants’ death toll to 37. There was no independent verification of the officials’ figures and Taliban spokesmen usually dispute government statements.

Pakistan faces a homegrown militancy, which has killed thousands of people, mostly in the northwest.

Pakistan’s actions against al Qaeda-linked militants are seen as vital to the United States efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan. (Reporting by Hassan Mahmood; Writing by Kamran Haider; Writing by Editing by Chris Allbritton)

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