Six dead as militants from Afghanistan storm Pakistan checkpoints
Smoke rises above the Jinnah International Airport - AP

ISLAMABAD:  At least six militants were killed when Pakistan’s military thwarted an attack on its checkpoints near the Afghani border, officials said Wednesday.

“About 70 to 80 terrorists physically attacked the posts, six terrorists were killed and nine were injured due to an effective response by Pakistani troops,” a security official said.

The attack occurred on Tuesday night near a post between Tripaman and Inkal Sar in the Lower Dir district, close to the Afghan border in the country’s restive northwest.

Militants based in Afghanistan have attacked Pakistani security posts a number of times souring the diplomatic ties between Islamabad and Kabul.

Islamabad has blamed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah for the attacks. Fazlullah is believed to be hiding somewhere in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province.

Pakistan’s military has been fighting an offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in the restive North Waziristan tribal district since mid-June.

The assault, which was rumoured for months, followed a brazen insurgent attack on Karachi airport that left dozens dead and a peace process with the Pakistani Taliban in tatters.

North Waziristan had become a major base for the TTP which rose up against the state in 2007, while the United States had long called for action in the area against militant groups targeting NATO forces in Afghanistan.

More than 500 militants and 27 soldiers have been killed in the assault so far, according to the military, though their death toll for insurgents cannot be independently confirmed.

In addition, more than 800,000 people have been forced to flee from North Waziristan by the assault, with most ending up in in the nearby town of Bannu where they either live in government-run camps or pay high rents for private accommodation.

The rugged mountainous tribal area has for years been a hideout for Islamist militants of all stripes — including Al-Qaeda and the homegrown TTP as well as foreign fighters including Uzbeks and Uighurs.

However, there are fears that many top militants have fled, including fighters from the feared Haqqani network which is blamed for numerous bloody attacks in Afghanistan.

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