JANUARY 14 2008 11:50h
The convoy was heading to Mohmand´s main town of Ghalanai when it came under fire.
Pakistani security forces killed 23 tribal militants but lost seven of their own men in fighting after the tribesmen ambushed a paramilitary troop convoy in northwest Pakistan, an army officer said.
Residents in Mohmand, a tribal agency bordering Afghanistan, said the army had opened up with artillery and helicopter gunships after the early morning attack on the convoy.
"The fighting broke out at 7:30 when militants attacked a paramilitary convoy," said the officer, who requested anonymity.
The convoy was heading to Mohmand's main town of Ghalanai when it came under fire.
There have been few reports of clashes in Mohmand previously, but militancy has been spreading through northwest Pakistan since mid-2007, after commandos stormed Islamabad's Red Mosque to crush a Taliban-style movement that had sprung up in the capital.
Mohmand adjoins Bajaur, another border tribal region which is known to be a hotbed of support for groups allied to al Qaeda.
The tribal region consists of seven semi-autonomous agencies. Further west in South Waziristan, one of the most restive regions on the border, a council meeting of the Wazir tribe decided on Monday to assemble a force of 600 tribesmen on Tuesday to fight foreign militants and anyone harbouring them.
"We will give a deadline of three days for anyone providing shelter to foreigners to stop. Otherwise, we'll take action against them," a tribal elder told Reuters in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan.
Tribesmen killed four Uzbek militants in South Waziristan over the weekend.