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4 soldiers, 7 militants killed in shootout in NW Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani security forces raided a militant hideout in a former Taliban stronghold bordering Afghanistan on Wednesday, triggering a shootout that killed four soldiers and seven militants, the military said.

In a statement, the military said a member of the raiding team, which was acting on intelligence it received, was also wounded in the exchange of fire near the town of Dattakhel in the district of North Waziristan. Security forces later seized a cache of weapons and guns, it said.

The military provided no further details but police and intelligence officials said the suspects belonged to a Pakistani militant group and were planning to carry out attacks.

North Waziristan served as the Pakistan Taliban headquarters until 2017 after security forces in a series of operations dismantled their network and killed, arrested or evicted scores of them. Also targeted were al-Qaida members and those sheltering them.

Residents say a large number of civilians were also killed in those military operations.

The Pakistani government and the military claim they cleared the region of militants but violence has continued. That has spread fear among residents in North Waziristan that the military might carry out more operations in the region.

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