Pakistani security forces on Saturday killed at least five militants in a gunfight in a restive northwestern tribal district bordering Afghanistan, the military said.
Troops encountered the militants near Ghalanai, the main town of Mohmand, one of the seven tribal border districts which have been home to Al-Qaeda and Taliban-led militants.
“Five terrorists were killed by security forces in Mohmand early morning today,” a military statement said.
Troops engaged the militants as they were planning a “terrorist activity”, it said without elaborating, adding that the bodies were handed over to the local administration.
The clash comes after Taliban militants killed at least nine policemen in two almost simultaneous attacks in Mohmand on Wednesday.
They killed seven police in an ambush on a checkpoint in Pandyali area of Mohmand and shot dead two more who were guarding a solar-powered tube well in Michni area.
Pakistan’s army stepped up its offensive in the region after the Taliban’s massacre of 153 people, mostly children, in Peshawar in December 2014, and killed or pushed hundreds of militants to Afghanistan.
Overall, levels of militant-linked violence have dropped dramatically, with 2015 seeing the fewest deaths among civilians and security forces since 2007 — the year the Pakistani Taliban umbrella group was formed.
But the threat posed by the Taliban remains, particularly in the northwest.
Last month Taliban gunmen stormed a university in the northwestern town of Charsadda, killing 21 people in a chilling reminder of their ongoing ability to carry out occasional high-profile and brazen attacks.
Pakistan’s Islamist insurgency began after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, which led to a spillover of militants across the border and a surge in recruitment for Pakistani extremist groups.