The Pakistani army says its troops killed 19 militants and captured important mountain-top positions in an operation against Islamist extremists near the Afghan border. Three soldiers also died in the battles.

Friday's statement says the troops fought in the Para Chamkani area of Kurram tribal region and the Maidan area of Khyber tribal region.

The army says the fighting took place on Thursday night and also left 12 militants and three soldiers wounded.

The military says it captured two strategic positions. The statement says local civilians cooperated fully with security forces and that village defense committees have been formed in the cleared area.

The Pakistani army has carried out many operations against militants in the northwest tribal regions, but the insurgents often regroup.