Pakistani security forces killed 30 alleged Islamist militants Friday in a region close to the Afghan border, a government official said, bringing to more than 80 the number purportedly killed in two days of fighting there.
There was no way of verifying the limited information released about the battles in Mohmand, where the military repeatedly has tried to flush out the Taliban and al-Qaida militants. The army, which has an interest in exaggerating its battlefield successes, blocks access to Mohmand and other Afghan border regions.
The skirmishes began Thursday when troops in the Paizai area of Mohmand came under attack, said Maqsood Hasan, a deputy administrator in the region. The troops returned fire and killed 10 suspected insurgents, but also called for air support that left more 44 more insurgents dead. He said three troops were killed and two or three civilians also died, but it was unclear which side was responsible.
Hasan said another 30 insurgents were killed Friday in the same area, but gave no details.
He said Paizai was around two miles (three kilometers) from the Afghan border.
The Pakistani army has carried out several operations in the border region, including in Mohmand and neighboring Bajur, over the last three years, killing many thousands of insurgents, according to its accounts. Several times it has declared victory, only to see violence resume. It also has had difficulty persuading displaced civilians to return home.
The United States has supported the army operations against the militants, who carry out attacks inside Pakistan as well as against U.S. and NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan.
Also Friday, the bullet-riddled bodies of three men accused by the Taliban of acting as U.S. spies were found in North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region that America has repeatedly targeted in missile strikes, two Pakistani intelligence officials said.
Notes attached to the bodies claimed the men provided information to the U.S. and warned others who did the same would face a similar fate, the intelligence officials said on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the record.
Militants have carried out dozens of such killings in recent years, especially in North Waziristan, which is largely under the control of insurgent groups.
Associated Press writers Riaz Khan and Rasool Dawar in Peshawar contributed to this report.