7 Pakistani soldiers, 23 militant killed in separate shootouts during raids along the Afghan border

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan's security forces were conducting several raids in the country's volatile northwest, a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, when shootouts ensued leaving seven soldiers and 23 militants dead, the army said Monday.

The first exchange of fire occurred overnight on the outskirts of Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing six militants and two army officers who “embraced martyrdom,” according to a statement by Pakistan's military.

A second shootout happened during another security operation on Monday in the district of Tank, leaving 10 militants dead, the statement said, adding that five soldiers and seven militants were also killed during a separate fire exchange in the district of Khyber.

The military provided no further details, but previous operations in the area targeted members of the Pakistani Taliban who have started regrouping in the northwestern region in recent years.

The Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, are a separate group but allies of the Afghan Taliban, which seized power in Afghanistan in 2021 as the U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout.

Many TTP leaders and fighters have found sanctuary in Afghanistan since then.