Pakistan conveys concern to Kabul after militant raid

ISLAMABAD Fri Jun 3, 2011 12:41am IST

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ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan called on Thursday for stern action against militants in Afghanistan by Afghan and U.S.-led foreign forces after 27 Pakistani forces were killed in a cross-border attack by militants.

Forty-five militants were also killed in clashes that erupted after 300 to 400 militants from Afghanistan stormed a Pakistani checkpost in an attack in the northwestern region of Dir on Wednesday. The clashes lasted for more than 24 hours.

Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir conveyed Pakistan's "strong concern" to the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"The Foreign Secretary stressed the need for stern action by the Afghan army, U.S. and NATO/ISAF forces in the area against militants and their hideouts in Afghanistan and against organisational support the militants," the statement said, referring to foreign forces in Afghanistan.

"Pakistan's concerns are also being brought to the attention of the U.S. and NATO."

A senior security official in the region said the militants attacked the post from their "sanctuaries" across the border in Afghanistan's eastern province of Afghanistan.

"Pakistani forces retaliated and killed 45 militants," the official said on condition of anonymity.

There was no way to verify that toll because most journalists are not allowed to enter the border region in the northwest, the epicentre of fighting between militants and security forces.

Militants often dispute official casualty counts.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said the attackers also burnt schools in the area.

The battle erupted after militants dressed in military uniforms attacked the post and killed one policeman.

The incident underscores the dangers posed by long, porous border which both countries have struggled to control as part of efforts control movements of insurgents on both sides of the boundary.

Pakistan's Taliban movement, which has close ties to al Qaeda, has increased pressure on the U.S.-backed government after vowing to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces on May 2 in a Pakistani town.

It has stepped up suicide bombings, attacking paramilitary cadets, a naval base, a U.S. consulate convoy and other targets.

After the bin Laden raid, Washington reiterated its call for Pakistan to crack down harder on militancy, especially on groups that cross over to Afghanistan to attack Western forces.

(Additional reporting by Kamran Haider)

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