Officials: 16 militants, 2 soldiers killed in Pakistan raids

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s security forces say they killed 16 militants in separate shootouts during raids against extremists and separatists on Saturday, with two soldiers killed in the process.

One raid was conducted in the Mastung area of Baluchistan province, the provincial counterterrorism department said in a statement. Earlier in the week, a bomb attack killed a police officer and wounded 19 others in the same area.

The statement said militants opened fire on police triggering a gun battle that left nine “terrorists” dead. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but the bombing earlier in the week was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban. The statement said the raid also yielded nine Kalashnikov assault rifles, explosives and rocket-propelled grenades.

In the evening, security forces say they killed six separatists in another raid in the Harnai district of Baluchistan. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information.

Earlier in the northwest, two soldiers and a militant were killed in an exchange of fire during a separate raid, according to a military statement. That raid took place Friday in Miran Shah, the main town of the North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan. The military statement said weapons and ammunition were seized during the raid.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 2,400-kilometer (1,500-mile) internationally recognized border known as the Durand Line, which was drawn in the 19th century when the British dominated South Asia. Kabul has never recognized the boundary.

Before the Taliban came back into power in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan often accused each other of turning a blind eye to militants operating along the porous frontier. The Taliban’s return to power in August apparently emboldened Islamic militants in Pakistan, where attacks on security forces have increased in recent weeks.

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