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Militants attack Pakistan checkpoint, killing at least 5

Five security troops were killed on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border when 200 militants attacked a checkpoint earlier today.

Image: openDemocracy via Creative Commons

HUNDREDS OF MILITANTS streamed over the border from Afghanistan and attacked a nearby Pakistani checkpoint on Wednesday, killing at least five security troops, police said.

The incident in Upper Dir district, during which 200 militant attacked, underscores the dangers posed by the porous nature of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which both countries have struggled to control as a means of stopping al-Qaida and Taliban-led insurgent movements who have ties on both sides of the boundary.

Also Wednesday, a helicopter carrying a top Pakistani army officer whose responsibilities include overseeing the border with archrival India crashed into the Indus River in the eastern Punjab province. Officials said they feared there were no survivors.

The cross-border attack is the latest bloodshed as the Pakistani Taliban and affiliated groups carry out threats to avenge the 2 May US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan’s northwest. But it is more likely a reaction to ongoing Pakistani military offensives against insurgents along the volatile border.

Upper Dir lies just outside of Pakistan’s tribal areas, but it, too, has witnessed al-Qaeda and Taliban militant activity, and the Pakistani military has carried out operations there in the past. The area is remote and dangerous, making it difficult to independently verify information.

Local police official Bahadur Khan said Wednesday’s attack began around noon. A shootout was still ongoing an hour later at the scene in Shaltalo town, which borders Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

The US has lauded Pakistan’s operations against insurgents, which have been carried out primarily in the semi-autonomous tribal areas and targeted militants attacking the Pakistani state.

But Pakistan has, at least publicly so far, resisted American appeals to stage an offensive in the North Waziristan tribal region, the primary haven for militant groups that attack US and NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan.

The helicopter crash Wednesday occurred near the town of Kot Sultan Bhakri in Pakistan’s Punjab province, which borders India.

Major General Mohammed Nawaz, who commanded the paramilitary border guards known as the Punjab Rangers, was in the chopper when it went down in the Indus river, said Mushtaq Anjum, a senior government official.

A military official also confirmed that Nawaz was onboard. He requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media.

It was unclear how many other people were on the aircraft. The reason for the crash was under investigation.

- AP

Read more: Pakistani Taliban kill 12 in naval base attack >

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