Friday, June 3, 2011

Pakistan clashes leave 71 dead

At least 71 people were killed in a gunbattle between Pakistani security forces and Taliban militants who stormed a checkpoint in the Upper Dir district on the border with Afghanistan. About 300 heavily armed Taliban militants, including rebels who crossed from the other side of the border, attacked a security checkpoint in Upper Dir in northwestern Pakistan, sparking the shootout.

District authorities confirmed the shooting death of 22 security officers, 45 Pakistani and Afghan Taliban militants and four civilians, including two infants and two women, who were caught in the crossfire. The sources stressed that the Taliban also destroyed two schools and several houses, while a police vehicle was severely damaged in the fighting.

The authorities considered that the objective of the Taliban militants was to take Shaltalu checkpoint, surrounded by mountains and forest, located northwest of Upper Dir, six kilometers from the Afghan border town of Kunar. To end the fighting, the Pakistani government ordered the deployment of military reinforcements to the police checkpoint and the deployment of attack helicopters, although the situation is uncertain.

Police sources consulted by the Pakistani television station said that the battle is still ongoing, so that elements of the Border Security Corps (paramilitary), Army helicopters, police and heavy artillery have been sent to the area. In addition, the government imposed a curfew in the border towns, near the scene of the clashes, which caused damage to communications systems.

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