Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pakistani army drives out raiders from Afghanistan

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KHAR, Pakistan -- Dozens of militants from Afghanistan who attacked a Pakistani village and took scores of hostages have fled back across the border, leaving the captives behind after a deadly battle with the army, officials said Friday.

The fighters, who staged the cross-border attack on Thursday around 2 p.m. local time, came from Afghanistan's Kunar province and appeared to be targeting members of an anti-Taliban militia in Kitkot village near Pakistan's Bajur tribal area in the northwest.

Pakistan has railed against Afghan and NATO forces for not doing enough to stop the rising number of cross-border attacks, which it says have killed dozens of its security forces. But there has been little sympathy from the U.S. and Afghan governments, which have long complained Pakistan gives sanctuary to militants fighting in Afghanistan.

The militants in Thursday's attack fled Kitkot under the cover of darkness late that night, said Framosh Khan, a government official in the surrounding area. Local residents reported seeing them carrying 15 dead fighters, he said. Two anti-Taliban militiamen were also killed in the fighting.

Pakistani soldiers managed to free dozens of villagers who were taken hostage by the militants or were trapped in their homes during the fighting, Khan said.

The information could not be independently verified because the area is largely off-limits to reporters.

Elsewhere in the country, a bomb exploded Friday near a political rally in the southwestern city of Quetta, killing at least five people, officials said.

The bombing appeared to target the rally by the Awami National Party, which has been attacked many times because of its opposition to Islamist militants.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 14, 2012 A24

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