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33 militants, 3 civilians killed in clashes in North Waziristan

Thursday, 19 December 2013 - 8:50pm IST Updated: Thursday, 19 December 2013 - 10:08pm IST | Place: Peshawar | Agency: PTI

At least 33 pro-Taliban fighters and three civilians have died in fierce clashes between Pakistani soldiers and militants in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region.

In the latest fighting, security forces killed 10 terrorists, most of them Uzbeks, during an operation at Mir Ali in North Waziristan Agency, military sources said.

The operation was launched this afternoon after intelligence reports said terrorists were preparing vehicle- borne improvised explosive devices in a hideout in Mir Ali.

Earlier, 23 militants were killed in an exchange of fire with security forces late last night.

The clashes erupted when militants ambushed a security forces convoy that was evacuating 28 injured soldiers from Khajori check post after an attack by a suicide bomber.

"Security forces valiantly responded and encircled fleeing terrorists and inflicted heavy casualties on them. Firefight continued for some time, which resulted in killing of 23 militants," a source said.

Three security personnel were injured in the firefight.

Media reports said three civilians died in shelling by the army though this could not be independently confirmed as the tribal areas are out of bounds for journalists.

Khajori check post was targeted by the suicide bomber when soldiers were offering prayers in a mosque. The bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into the post, killing five soldiers.

Ansarul Mujahideen, a little-known group linked to the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, saying it was carried out to avenge former Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud's death in a US drone strike.

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