8 soldiers, 25 militants killed in Pak clash

Islamabad: At least eight soldiers and 25 militants were killed today in a skirmish that began after scores of Taliban fighters attacked a military post in the restive Kurram tribal region of northwest Pakistan, which has witnessed fierce clashes in recent days.

Twenty-five soldiers were injured in the fighting in Jogi area of Kurram Agency, officials were quoted as saying by the Pakistani media. Over 100 militants attacked the post at around midnight. The death toll could not be independently confirmed as journalists are barred from reporting from the region.

The militants targeted soldiers who were trying to hold a strategic mountain in Jogi area and the fighting continued till this morning, the officials said. Troops had taken control of the mountain last week after fighting that killed six soldiers and 20 militants.

Militants in the region are loyal to Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud. The militants use the Jogi area to gain access to North Waziristan, which the US has described as a safe haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda elements.

Besides the activities of the Taliban, Kurram Agency has also been affected by clashes between Shia and Sunni tribesmen over the past four years. Hundreds of people have died in the fighting between the rival tribesmen.