31 killed as Pak Taliban, militia clash over valley

Two Islamic militant groups clashed Saturday over control of a prized valley in northwest Pakistan, killing at least 31 people and wounding dozens, officials said.

Arshad Khan of the Khyber tribal region said the fighting between the two Islamic militant groups began Friday in Tirah valley, near the Afghan border, when Tehrik-e-Taliban captured the base of another militant group, Ansarul Islam. Ansarul Islam tried to retake the base and fighting continued into Saturday.

The Pakistani military has been battling a stubborn insurgency in northwest Pakistan in rugged tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.

The remote valley, tucked in mountainous terrain, is highly valued by militant groups as a base of operations. It's difficult for the Pakistani military to enter the area, which allows militants easy access to Afghanistan and other tribal areas of Pakistan.

Most of the dead were militants, but some local tribesmen also were killed, according to a Pakistani military officer.

On Saturday, a large group of armed men attacked a post manned by pro-government tribal militia members in a remote area in southwestern Baluchistan, killing two tribesmen and abducting seven more. The post is 500 km northeast of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Local administrator Noor Illahi Bugti said dozens of armed men attacked the post, shot and killed two of the tribesmen and then forced the others to surrender. He said seven of the militia volunteers were then taken away by the armed group.

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