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Pakistan Says Says At Least Three Soldiers Killed In TTP Attack

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Security personnel (left) stand beside a destroyed security post following overnight attacks by militants on security camps in the Naushki district on February 3.

At least three Pakistani soldiers have been killed in a militant attack in the Kurram district of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, an official told RFE/RL on February 6.

Four army soldiers were injured in the attack and the following firefight late on February 5 at a security check post bordering Afghanistan, said the official, who requested his name not be used as he was not authorized to talk to media.

He said that after the attack the militants crossed the border into Afghanistan.

The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Taliban-led government in Afghanistan has not commented on the incident but in the past has reiterated that it will not allow its soil to be used for transnational attacks.

Hashmat Ali, a resident of the nearby town of Mali Khel, told RFE/RL that the sound of gunfire could be heard up till midnight.

The attack in the Kurram district came hours after the Pakistani military said security forces had cleared separatist militants from two areas of the southwestern Balochistan Province after they attacked two army camps, leaving nine soldiers dead and six others wounded.

In a statement issued late on February 5, Pakistan's military said 20 militants were killed in intense, hourslong firefights and follow-up operations.

The military statement said militants attacked security forces' camps in Balochistan in the districts of Naushki and Panjgur late on February 2 and both attacks were eventually repulsed.

An ethnic separatist group, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The military said nine attackers were killed in Naushki, while four troops, including an officer, were killed. It said in Panjgur, security forces repulsed the attack after an intense exchange of fire and the attackers fled the area.

Security forces began an operation to hunt down the fleeing attackers and a curfew in the areas was imposed.

Four fleeing militants were killed in Panjgur, while four who were hiding elsewhere were killed in an operation on February 5 when they refused to surrender, the military said.

It said three other militants linked to the attacks were killed in the district of Kech on February 4. Five soldiers were killed and six others wounded in follow-up operations.

Authorities say they have quelled an insurgency launched by Baluch separatists demanding independence from Pakistan in the southwestern province bordering Iran and Afghanistan.

However, attacks on security forces and their installations have persisted. Separatists and militants have regularly staged attacks in Balochistan in recent years. Last week, 10 soldiers were killed in an attack on a security post in the province.

The TTP also has a presence in Balochistan. It is an umbrella group that is separate from the Afghan Taliban.

In a separate statement on February 6, the military said security forces killed a would-be suicide bomber from the TTP in the district of Tank in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

Separately, security forces arrested a militant during a raid at a hideout in the Sarwakai area of the South Waziristan tribal district. The military statement said militant Allah Noor was trying to escape wearing a woman's burqa to hide his identify.

In the Makeen area of South Waziristan, troops seized arms, ammunition, and communications gear and arrested four people who were transporting them.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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