8 Pakistani soldiers and police killed in violence

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) — Military operations and insurgent attacks in lawless districts of Pakistan left eight members of the security forces and around 30 militants and criminal suspects dead on Sunday, officials said.

Two soldiers and 16 militants were killed in clashes in the Tirah Valley area of the Khyber tribal region in the northwest, the military said in a statement. Another three soldiers were wounded in the remote mountainous district near the Afghan border.

The army launched an offensive last month into the valley targeting the Pakistani Taliban and an allied group, Lashkar-e-Islam. The military statement said the latest fighting forced the militants to flee from two of their hideouts, leaving behind a huge cache of arms and ammunition.

In the North Waziristan tribal region, another northwestern district bordering Afghanistan, a roadside bomb attack on a convoy killed two soldiers and wounded three, said two Pakistani intelligence officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The tribal region is home to both Pakistani and Afghan militant groups, including al-Qaida-linked organizations with significant numbers of foreign fighters. The military conducts sweeps against the insurgents, inflicting losses but not preventing them from striking back with roadside bombs and ambushes targeting soldiers, government-allied militias, anti-militant politicians, and others.

Also Sunday, two members of the paramilitary Frontier Corps were killed in clashes in the Bolan district of the southwestern province of Baluchistan, said government official Waheed Shah. He said the fight also killed 13 “criminals” suspected in kidnappings and robberies.

In the province’s Sibbi district, a convoy of an independent candidate running in Pakistan’s May 11 parliamentary elections was attacked by two gunmen who killed two of his police guards, said police official Owais Ahmad. He said candidate Sardar Sarfraz Domeki’s other guards fired back, killing one of the attackers and wounding the other. He said the police were questioning the wounded attacker.

The southwestern province has seen for years a low-level insurgency by nationalist groups who want a greater share of regional resources of oil and gas. Lawlessness in the region has also allowed sectarian groups and criminal gangs to operate.

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Associated Press Writers Rasool Dawar in Peshawar and Abdul Sattar in Quetta contributed to this report.

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