Pakistan Detains 39 Suspected Insurgents Who Attacked Border Checkpoint

January 4, 2011 - 6:26 AM

Khar, Pakistan (AP) - Militants attacked a checkpoint Tuesday in a Pakistani tribal region along the Afghan border, triggering a shootout and prompting security forces to round up 39 suspected insurgents, a local official said.

The clash occurred in the Bhai Corr area of Mohmand, a tribal region where the Pakistani military has fought al-Qaida and Taliban militants. Several recent attacks in Mohmand -- including pitched battles involving some 150 militants attacking five security posts -- have shown the insurgents' tenacity despite the security operations.

Government administrator Rasool Khan said no soldiers were wounded in Tuesday's fighting but did not give any details on potential militant casualties. A search operation launched in the attack's aftermath netted 39 suspected militants from nearby areas, he said.

Information from Pakistan's tribal regions is difficult to verify independently. The tribal belt is a dangerous territory, and access is restricted.

The army occasionally launches crackdowns in the tribal areas and other parts of Pakistan, taking into custody numerous young men deemed militant suspects. Some are later freed, but many end up being held for lengthy periods of time without trial or proof of their involvement in militant activity.

Also Tuesday, a remote-controlled bomb tore through a bus carrying children of paramilitary soldiers in southwest Pakistan, police said. Fifteen children were wounded, five of them critically.

The bus was traveling in the Turbat area of Baluchistan province with two other military vehicles as ecorts. Neither of those two vehicles were hit, area police chief Abdul Latif said.

Militant Baluch nationalist groups are active in Turbat. The groups are part of a low-level insurgency that wants Baluchistan province to have greater autonomy from the federal government and a bigger slice of the money from its natural resources.

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Sattar reported from Quetta.