Attacks kill nine Pakistani soldiers

Attacks killed nine Pakistani soldiers on Tuesday, targeting troops in the militant-infested tribal badlands near Afghanistan and further south on the border with Iran, officials said.

The deadliest attack killed five paramilitary troops travelling in a routine convoy between the towns of Turbat and Mand, some 680 kilometers (370 miles) southwest of Quetta, the capital city of Baluchistan province.

"Five paramilitary soldiers were martyred and five others were wounded in the bomb blast," a paramilitary commander told AFP.

The convoy was en route to a remote border base near the town of Mand, he said requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.

Local police and security officials confirmed the attack and toll.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Officials said a bomb was detonated by remote-control near Miranshah, the main town in the tribal district, soon after the convoy left for the town of Datta Khel, ripping through a truck carrying army and paramilitary troops.

"Three soldiers were killed and 15 wounded," an intelligence official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Another security official said the bomb was planted in a drain near the market in Miranshah and exploded at a time when authorities had imposed a routine curfew so the military convoy could go past.

In the neighbouring district of South Waziristan, a paramilitary soldier was killed when Taliban militants attacked a checkpost in the Makeen area, security officials in the main northwestern city of Peshawar said.

But military commanders argue that any operation should be of their choosing, arguing that its 140,000 troops already committed to the northwest are too overstretched fighting a homegrown insurgency to take on the Haqqanis.

On Monday, the military announced the start of an operation in Kurram designed to clear out militants and suicide bombers who have taken refuge there, and open up the main road dissecting the tribal district.

 Offensive displaces 28,000

Around 28,000 people have fled a Pakistani tribal region where the military is conducting a fresh offensive to evict Islamist militants along the Afghan border, officials said Tuesday.

Thousands of families escaped Kurram in a mass exodus after the offensive was launched on Monday, with the army saying that artillery and fighter jets had swung into action to drive out "terrorists".

The military was also aiming to open up the main road bisecting the district, which is often troubled by sectarian violence.

About 4,000 families, with an average seven members each, had already left, said government official Sahibzada Anis, sparking fears authorities and charities might struggle to cope with the sudden surge of refugees.

More than 450 families were seeking shelter in camps or school buildings in the area while the majority of the displaced people had gone to their relatives living in different places, he said.

"The authorities will provide food and relief goods to the uprooted tribesmen as efforts are made to restore peace in the region," he added.

On Monday, officials put the number of displaced at 1,000 families.

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