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Pakistan says attack by militants kills 5 soldiers

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By Associated Press

Islamic militants attacked three Pakistani military border posts in a tribal region along the Afghan border, killing five soldiers, the army said Monday.

Pakistani paramilitary soldier stand guard next to suspects arrested during a search operation in Shah Kass, an area of Pakistani Khyber tribal region along Afghan border, Friday, March 3, 2017. About 1,300 suspected militants were arrested in a sweep of hideouts in Pakistan's largest province of Punjab, police said. Provincial law minister said police were searching out areas in Punjab dominated by ethnic Pashtuns and unregistered Afghan refugees because some of the worst attacks carried out in the provincial capital of Lahore involved residents of the tribal areas. (Credits: AP Photo | Muhammad Sajjad | Manila Bulletin)

Pakistani paramilitary soldier stand guard next to suspects arrested during a search operation in Shah Kass, an area of Pakistani Khyber tribal region along Afghan border, Friday, March 3, 2017. (Credits: AP Photo | Muhammad Sajjad | Manila Bulletin)

Pakistani troops repulsed the attackers, who had crossed overnight from Afghanistan into the Mohmand tribal region, the military statement said. It added that 10 of the attackers were believed to have been killed before the militants retreated over the border.

A Pakistani Taliban breakaway faction, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility. Pakistan has long been home to both local and al-Qaida linked foreign militants.

Several Pakistani military offensives have targeted the bases and infrastructure used by the militants in the country’s tribal regions, and Islamabad says some of the groups have shifted to sanctuaries across the Afghan border.

The militants have shown the ongoing capability to launch large-scale attacks, such as a string of suicide bombings last month that killed over 125. One single bombing which targeted a famed Sufi shrine in southern Pakistan killed 90 devotees.

The Pakistani Taliban, their allied local militants and the Islamic State group have claimed the brazen attacks.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, one of the local groups, has surfaced as one of the deadliest militant factions. The group, which is based in the Mohmand tribal region, has claimed several major attacks over the past year.

Last month’s string of attacks prompted fresh tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan, with Islamabad claiming they were planned and executed by militants enjoying safe haven across the border. Afghanistan has repeatedly made similar accusations about Afghan militants hiding inside Pakistan.

The Pakistani government has shut two main border crossings with Afghanistan for the past three weeks and Pakistani artillery has fired across the border.

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