(BBC) An ambush on a military convoy in Pakistan has left five soldiers and a number of attackers dead, police say.
The attack took place on Tuesday night in the tribal area bordering neighbouring Afghanistan.
The convoy of a dozen vehicles is said to have been attacked by masked men with grenades and rockets by militants believed to be linked with al-Qaeda.
Hundreds of al-Qaeda militants, including Chechens, Uzbeks and Arabs are believed to be hiding in the area.
Following the ambush, Pakistani soldiers are said to have shelled suspected militant hideouts for over two hours.
Five of the wounded soldiers have been shifted to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Reports say two militants were also killed in the clash.
Local tribesmen say three civilians were also killed when their vehicle came under fire.
‘Bin Laden not here’
The latest attack takes place at a time when the Pakistan army general overseeing the military operation in the tribal areas, Lieutenant General Safdar Hussain, was briefing local media on his efforts to clean the South Waziristan area of al-Qaeda militants.
He denied the presence of Osama bin Laden in the mountainous area but admitted the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Tahir Yaldashev, was present in South Waziristan, probably in the Mehsud tribe area.
“The way the army is deployed, there is nothing beyond my eyes and ears,” he told reporters in the provincial capital, Peshawar.
“I have a very good surveillance system … I can say he (Bin Laden) is not here.”
The commander also for the first time revealed that 171 Pakistani soldiers and security personnel had been killed in the area since March this year.
Pakistan began large-scale military operations against alleged al-Qaeda fighters in Waziristan in March.
The army says it has killed at least 150 militants since then.