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The Mideast

Pakistani Taliban kill 7 soldiers, abduct 4

Islamist militants attacked a Pakistani army checkpoint near the Afghan border Friday, killing seven paramilitary soldiers and abducting four, a government official and a Taliban spokesman said.

Jamil Khan, a local official, said around 40 militants armed with rockets, grenades and automatic weapons attacked the army post in the Kurram region, sparking a gunbattle that killed up to 18 militants.

The ambush was the latest in a series of attacks over the past week in Kurram, one of the seven Pakistani border regions where the military has battled militants for several years.

It was not possible to independently confirm the information because the border region is effectively off-limits to reporters. Militants have in the past disputed army accounts of casualties, and human rights groups say civilians often die in military actions.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to reporters. He did not mention any insurgent casualties.

Also Friday, a car bomb exploded outside the residence of a tribal elder in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing four people and wounding three, senior police officer Fazal Wahid said.

The blast appeared to target the elder, Haji Astana Gul, who was not hurt in the attack, Wahid said.