Three militants, 2 policemen killed in Pakistan.http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSISL11373420080202
Sat Feb 2, 2008PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters)
- Three Islamist militants and two policemen were killed on Saturday in a firefight in northwestern Pakistan, an increasingly restive region on the Afghan border, police said.
The shootout near Mardan in the North West Frontier Province erupted after police raided a house where militants were hiding. Residents said the fighting lasted about seven hours and the militants hurled grenades and fired rockets at the police.
"The militants refused to surrender and opened fire on police, forcing us to retaliate," said Abdullah Khan, a senior police officer in Mardan.
Police said they had recovered the bodies of three militants and some suicide vests from the house. Two policemen were killed and one was wounded in the fighting, they said.
Mardan, a town around 40 km northeast of the provincial capital, Peshawar, has so far been largely free of the violence which has spread from remote tribal areas on the border known as sanctuaries for al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.
A suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into a security force checkpoint in North Waziristan tribal region on the Afghan border on Friday, killing at least six men.
That attack came hours after U.S. officials and an al Qaeda-linked Web site said that a senior al Qaeda leader, Abu Laith al-Libi, was killed in the same region this week. Libi was killed by a missile apparently fired from a U.S. drone.
U.S. officials have said they were willing to send troops to Pakistan to help fight the militants but Pakistani leaders have rejected such suggestions, fearing it could trigger a backlash from fiercely-independent Pashtun tribes living on the border.