Pakistan soldiers killed in Taliban clash

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Pakistan’s Taliban accused the military Tuesday of breaking a fragile ceasefire, after the army said five soldiers and at least four militants died in a gun battle in the country’s northwest.

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Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) declared an indefinite ceasefire in June to facilitate peace talks being brokered by neighboring Afghanistan, but there have been regular clashes since then despite both sides saying the truce was still on.

In the latest clash on Monday, the Pakistan military said it raided a militant hideout in Boyya, North Waziristan, following an intelligence tip-off.

“Intense fire exchange took place between own troops and terrorists,” the military’s public relations wing said in a statement.

It said four militants were killed, and five soldiers, including an officer, “embraced martyrdom.”

On Tuesday a TTP commander confirmed the clash and accused the government of bad faith, saying troops had attacked them in six districts recently, including Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

“The government was not honouring its commitment regarding the ceasefire,” the commander told AFP.

A government official who has been party to negotiations with the group accused them of “targeted killings” and “increasing their movements” in parts of the country.

Since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan last year Islamabad has regularly complained of attacks by the TTP, especially along their porous frontier.

The Pakistan and Afghanistan Taliban are separate groups but share a common ideology.

Afghanistan insists it will not allow its soil to be used by foreign militants, but hundreds of Pakistan Taliban fighters are believed to be in the country, as well as much of the group’s leadership.

On Tuesday Pakistan's military marked Defence Day, honoring those who died in the 1965 war with India.

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