Shootout with Taliban kills 4 Pakistani army officers

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ISLAMABAD (AP) — A shootout with militants in a Pakistani tribal region bordering Afghanistan early on Wednesday killed an army major and three other officers, the military said. The Pakistani Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to a military statement, one of the attackers blew himself up and another was shot and killed in the raid on a home in the Dir tribal region. The slain officers included an intelligence officer, the statement added.

The military said one militant was also captured in the raid. It provided no additional details and only said the raid foiled a possible major militant attack.

The Pakistani Taliban, or Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan as the militant group is known, said it was behind the killing of the soldiers in a text message sent to the media.

Mohammad Khurasani, a purported spokesman for the group, said the soldiers were targeted when they came for a search operation. "We will continue to avenge the killing of our fellow fighters in custody," he said.

The latest military casualties came weeks after the army launched a new operation against militants in another Khyber tribal region in the northwest. The operation aims to prevent insurgents from carrying out cross-border attacks in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

The Pakistani military has undertaken several operations in the tribal regions in recent years and at one point claimed it had cleared the areas. But militants still swiftly move across the porous border to regroup and stage new attacks.

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