Militant clash kills eight soldiers in NW Pakistan

Pakistan began a long-awaited push to clear insurgent bases from the North Waziristan tribal district in June 2014 after a bloody Taliban attack on Karachi airport sank faltering peace talks (AFP Photo/A Majeed)

Eight soldiers were killed in a clash with militants in restive northwest Pakistan, officials said Wednesday, as security forces carried out a clearance operation.

"Eight soldiers embraced shahadat (martyrdom) during fierce fighting and exchange of fire with terrorists," a local security official based in Peshawar told AFP.

He said that 21 militants were also killed.

The incident occurred in the Spin Qamar neighbourhood, near the Bara area of Khyber tribal district, as security forces carried out an operation to clear suspected militants.

Another security official also confirmed the incident.

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 a long-awaited offensive against militant hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal area, after a bloody raid on Karachi Airport ended faltering peace talks between the government and the Taliban.

Pakistan's army says it has killed more than 1,000 militants and lost 86 soldiers since the start of the operation.

But the number and identity of those killed is difficult to verify as there is little regular media access to the conflict zones.