PARACHINAR, Pakistan — A large group of Islamist militants attacked a Pakistani army checkpoint near the Afghan border on Friday, killing seven paramilitary soldiers and abducting four, a government official and a spokesman for the insurgents said.

Up to 18 insurgents were killed in retaliatory fire during the incident in Kurram region, said Jamil Khan.

He said there were around 40 attackers armed with rockets, grenades and automatic weapons.

The attack was the latest in a series of bloody violent incidents in Kurram over the past week that have reportedly highlighted the tenacity of the insurgency there.

It was not possible to independently confirm the information because the border region is effectively off-limits to reporters. Militants have in the past disputed army accounts of casualties, and human rights groups say civilians often die in military actions.

Kurram is one of the seven Pakistani border regions where the military has battled for several years against militants.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to reporters.

He made no mention of any insurgent casualties.

The Taliban have abducted and killed several Pakistani army soldiers and paramilitary police in recent weeks.


Associated Press writer Rasool Dawar in Peshawar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.