Pakistan military kills 32 militants near Afghan border days after school massacre

A student walks past a bullet-riddled wall inside the army-run school. Pakistan's military said on Friday that it had killed 32 militants in clashes in a troubled tribal region near the Afghan border, days after the Taleban massacre killed 148 people
A student walks past a bullet-riddled wall inside the army-run school. Pakistan's military said on Friday that it had killed 32 militants in clashes in a troubled tribal region near the Afghan border, days after the Taleban massacre killed 148 people. -- PHOTO: AFP 

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan's military said on Friday that it had killed 32 militants in clashes in a troubled tribal region near the Afghan border, days after a Taleban massacre killed 148 people at a school.

The insurgents were killed by security forces in an ambush in the Tirah area of Khyber, where the Taleban and other militants have taken refuge from an army offensive, the military said in a statement.

"Reportedly a group of terrorists was moving from Tirah towards Pak-Afghan border. Security forces ambushed the moving group at Wurmagai and Spurkot, killing 32 terrorists in exchange of fire," the statement said, adding that three security personnel were injured.

The government and military have reaffirmed their determination to defeat the Taleban following the school massacre in the north-western city of Peshawar.

Pakistani Taleban gunmen stormed the Army Public School in Peshawar on Tuesday, slaughtering 148 people, including 132 children, in the country's deadliest ever terror attack.

The group said the assault was revenge for the killing of its fighters and their families in an ongoing military operation against its hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal area, and warned more attacks would follow.

Pakistan has been battling Islamist groups in its semi-autonomous tribal belt since 2004 after its army entered the region to search for Al-Qaeda fighters who had fled across the border following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

In June the army began an offensive against militant hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal agency after a bloody raid on Karachi Airport ended faltering peace talks between the government and the Taliban.

North Waziristan has long been a base for the Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) as well as the Haqqani network which targets US and NATO forces across the border.

The United States has long called for action against militant groups operating there.

Pakistan's army says it has killed more than 1,700 militants so far, with 126 soldiers losing their lives.

But the toll and identity of those killed is difficult to verify because journalists do not have regular access to the conflict zones.