Afghan militants attack Pakistani village; 5 dead

June 16, 2011 - 4:29 AM

KHAR, Pakistan (AP) โ€” More than 200 militants crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan early Thursday and attacked a border village with rockets, mortars and machine guns, killing five people in the second such raid in two weeks, a government official said.

The Pakistani military responded to the attack in the Bajur tribal region from a nearby base, and fighting was still ongoing as of midmorning, said Sajid Khan, a senior government official in the area. The dead included three women and two men from the village in the Manozangal area, and many others were wounded, he said.

The recent raids illustrate the complexity of fighting militants who can easily move across the rugged border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan also has complained that NATO forces in Afghanistan are not doing enough to stem the flow of militants across the border, the opposite of Washington's frequent gripe that the Pakistani military needs to do more to stop fighters from streaming into Afghanistan.

The militants swarmed into Pakistan's Upper Dir district from Afghanistan in early June, triggering fighting that lasted several days before the Pakistani military was able to force them back across the border. The government said at least 25 soldiers, 35 militants and three civilians were killed in the clashes.

Both Bajur and Upper Dir are located across the border from Afghanistan's Kunar province, large parts of which are controlled by the Taliban.

The raids hint at challenges ahead for the U.S. and Pakistan when Washington begins withdrawing troops from Afghanistan later this year. Pakistan maintains that NATO already needs more troops along the Afghan side of the border.

Meanwhile, NATO countries, including the U.S., suspect Pakistan of refusing to target Afghan Taliban militants and their allies holed up in the country because the government believes they could be useful allies in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw.

In the past, NATO and Pakistani forces have staged coordinated "hammer and anvil" operations against militants on the border, but relations between Washington and Islamabad have hit a particularly rough patch, especially since the unilateral American raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2.

Even so, NATO officials say that border cooperation has not suffered as a result of the chill in ties.