South Asia

Afghan Nato forces 'kill 35 Pakistan Taliban militants'

Pakistani soldiers on the border with Afghanistan
Image caption Pakistan is under pressure from the US to stop cross-border incursions

At least 35 Taliban militants from Pakistan have been killed and several wounded by Nato-led forces inside Afghanistan, officials say.

The militants are said to have crossed over into the Afghan province of Paktia to target coalition forces when they came under attack last week.

Sources in Pakistan's Waziristan tribal region told the BBC that many of those wounded had now been brought back.

Some are said to be receiving medical treatment in the town of Miranshah.

Pakistan has been under severe pressure from the US in recent months to prevent militants based in its tribal regions from crossing into Afghanistan to fight Nato troops based there.

Earlier this month Washington said that it was cutting $800m (£500m) in military aid to Islamabad because of "difficulties" in its relationship with Pakistan.

Dangerous faction

Efforts are said to be under way to bring back the bodies of those killed in the latest fighting for burials.

Reports suggest many of the dead and wounded belonged to two leading militant leaders in Waziristan - Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mullah Nazir.

The BBC's Shahzeb Jillani says that both are known for actively targeting Nato-led forces. He says the deaths appear to be a significant blow to cross-border militants feeding the insurgency inside Afghanistan.

The coalition itself has confirmed the raid, saying it believes the fighters were moved into Afghanistan by the Haqqani group, long regarded by the US as an especially dangerous militant faction based in Waziristan.

There have been previous cases of Pakistani Taliban being killed by Nato, but few incidents are reported.

Correspondents say that the Pakistani army faces a dilemma when pursuing militants in the border areas.

On the one hand it is under pressure from the US and Afghanistan to stop the incursions, but on the other hand it has to be careful to respect Afghan territorial integrity.

Last month Islamabad rejected claims made by Kabul that it had fired more than 450 rockets into Afghan territory over a period of three weeks.

A spokesman told the BBC that a "few accidental rounds" may have landed in Afghanistan as the army battled Taliban militants entrenched in the area.

In recent weeks, Islamabad has also complained of a number of cross-border militant attacks in Pakistan's north-west and has lodged official protests with Kabul over the incursions.

In one incident on 16 June more than 200 militants were said to have stormed a Pakistani village near the Afghan border.

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