5 soldiers killed in Taliban attack in Pak tribal belt

Islamabad: Taliban militants armed with automatic weapons attacked a military convoy in northwest Pakistan`s restive tribal belt, killing at least five soldiers and injuring three others, officials said today.

The convoy was attacked yesterday near Razmak, over 50 km from Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal agency. The militants used rockets, grenades and automatic weapons to target the convoy.The troops retaliated but there was no report of Taliban casualties, the officials said.

They said five soldiers were killed and three others injured in the attack. Some media reports said about a dozen soldiers were killed in the attack but military authorities in South Waziristan and Peshawar denied this.

Unnamed officials told The News that the dead soldiers were members of a bomb disposal squad who were travelling in a vehicle ahead of the convoy. They said the attack was carried out by Pakistani Taliban militants based in Zangara.

Zangara is a mountainous area where Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan founder Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack in August 2009. The US has described North Waziristan as a safe haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda elements.

US drones have carried out scores of missile strikes in the region over the past two years, killing several top militant commanders. Despite pressure from the US to launch a military offensive in North Waziristan, Islamabad has insisted that any operation will be launched at a time of its choosing and in line with national interests.