At least eight people were killed and 15 others wounded in clashes between Pakistani troops and militants in the restive northwestern tribal belt, officials said Monday.
Four militants and one soldier were killed when militants stormed a security forces check point late Sunday in Miranshah, the main town of lawless North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan.
The military retaliated with an assault early Monday on suspected militant hide outs outside the town, but the attack left three civilians dead and 15 wounded, security officials said.
"Militants attacked our check point in Miranshah on Sunday evening and killed one soldier, we retaliated... and shot dead four militants," a senior security official told Agence France Presse.
On Monday morning "we fired shells and destroyed five shops in Datakhel near Miranshah," from where military convoys had recently come under attack, he said.
Two security officials confirmed the civilian deaths in Monday's attack, but the military refused to do so.
"Three civilians were killed and 15 were injured when the security forces fired shells at the suspected militant hide outs," one of the officials said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Pakistan's seven tribal districts near the Afghan border are rife with homegrown insurgents and are strongholds of Taliban and al-Qaida operatives.
Islamist militants have killed more than 4,800 people across Pakistan since government troops raided an extremist mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.
U.S. officials say Pakistan's tribal districts provide sanctuary to Taliban insurgents fighting a 10-year war against foreign troops in neighboring Afghanistan and to al-Qaida-linked militants plotting attacks on the West.
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