Pakistani Armed Forces confirm that seven of its servicemen were beheaded by the Taliban in cross-border attack

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The officials from Pakistani Armed Forces confirmed yesterday that a total of 13 of their soldiers were killed, with seven beheaded in a cross-border attack conducted by the Taliban insurgents. The officials said that the first batch of six soldiers was killed during a shootout, which occurred on Sunday, when Taliban militants who had infiltrated from Afghanistan ambushed them. A further eleven soldiers went missing after the incident, out of whom the remains of seven were later found in a mutilated condition.

According to the Pakistan Army, more than 100 Taliban insurgents crossed the border on Sunday afternoon in the Sabir Kalley region of Upper Dir District (Malakand Agency), in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The militants, members of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group, were flushed out of the Swat district in a military operation conducted on 2009. They are believed to have escaped to the Afghan province of Kunar, and have set up bases there.

Meanwhile, a leading figure from the TTP informed the media that they are in possession of the bodies of 17 Pakistani servicemen. He said that a total of 18 soldiers were killed, and they are currently holding four captives. The Army officials have so far rejected the claim, saying that 13 of their men are dead, and four are missing. Army officials also claimed that 14 militants were also killed in the fire-fight. The Army sources said apart from soldiers, the deceased included members of the paramilitary units and one civilian.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the Pakistani Prime Minister said that he will launch a protest against the Afghan authorities and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), for not doing enough to secure the Afghan-Pakistan border. Ashraf also claimed that the Afghan government has failed to act against the militants, especially to prevent them from constructing bases and hide-outs in the Kunar province, even after repeated requests by Pakistan.

In a related development, Taliban militants attacked the Headquarters of the Aaj TV in Karachi yesterday, injuring two of the staff. A statement from the Taliban later took responsibility to the attack, and added that more media facilities will come under attack, unless they broadcast announcements and propaganda from the Taliban.

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