At least 19 Taliban militants and seven Pakistani soldiers were killed in fighting near the Afghanistan border on Monday, Pakistani army officials have confirmed.
The clashes happened near a town Dattakhel, in North Waziristan, where the Pakistani military launched a major offensive against the Taliban last June.
The Pakistani soldiers were killed when a militant exploded a suicide vest near a checkpoint in Dattakhel, the army officials said. The following gunfight resulted in the deaths 19 militants, including five Taliban commanders, according to the army. But the Taliban disputed that account, claiming only one fighter was killed and three others were injured.
There is no way to independently verify the death toll as North Waziristan has been completely sealed since the operation started.
Hundreds of thousands of people fled villages and towns in the North Waziristan region following the start of the army offensive.
The Pakistani military claims that 80 percent of North Waziristan’s tribal areas have been purged of militants. However, locals say that Dattakhel and the nearby Shawal Valley are still under the control of militants.