15 militants killed in clashes in northwest Pak

Islamabad: A soldier and 15 militants were killed in a clash that erupted between security forces and Taliban fighters who carried out a cross-border attack in northwest Pakistan, according to media reports today.

The attack was the latest in a string of assaults blamed on Pakistani Taliban based in Afghanistan.

Reports said the clash occurred near the Afghan border in Upper Dir district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Two security personnel were injured in the clash, which broke out at Karakar village, located close to the border.

The fighting began when militants fired at soldiers patrolling a road, an official told the media.

Taliban spokesman Sirajuddin Ahmad, who contacts reporters in northwest Pakistan from Afghanistan, has claimed responsibility for most of the cross-border attacks and bomb blasts in Malakand division.

He is close to Maulana Fazlullah, the former head of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in the Swat valley.

Fazlullah, also known as Mullah Radio, fled to Afghanistan after Pakistani troops launched an operation against militants in Swat and Malakand in 2009.

A large number of soldiers were deployed in Upper Dir and Chitral areas last month following cross-border attacks by the Pakistani Taliban.

During a search operation on Saturday, security forces killed four militants in Charbagh and Mangaltan areas of Swat district.

An army officer was injured during the exchange of fire with the militants.