Seven captured Pakistani soldiers 'beheaded by Taliban'

File photo of Pakistani soldiers in South Waziristan (April 2007)
Image caption Pakistani soldiers in South Waziristan are often attacked by the Taliban

Seven Pakistani soldiers have been beheaded after being seized by Taliban militants close to the Afghan border on Sunday, security officials say.

Four other soldiers remain missing after the reported cross-border attack involving 100 heavily armed militants.

The soldiers were on patrol in the north-western district of Upper Dir.

Separately, the Taliban in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal area have banned a polio vaccination campaign until US drone attacks stop.

'New tensions'

Correspondents say the Upper Dir skirmish has provoked new tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Islamabad has often complained that militants use parts of Afghanistan as a sanctuary from which to stage attacks inside Pakistan.

That claim helps Pakistan fend off frequent US and Nato complaints that militants based in Pakistan are responsible for much of the violence in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's newly-elected Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said he would complain directly to Afghan President Hamid Karzai about the incident.

Afghanistan has denied that militants based on its side of the border were responsible.

The Pakistani Taliban is reported to have said its fighters carried out the raid. However they did not say from which country the attackers originated.

The border region between the two countries is a hotbed of militancy, with much of it not controlled by the Pakistani government.

Meanwhile militants in the South Waziristan region have implemented the same polio vaccinations ban as that enforced in neighbouring North Waziristan last week, linking its continuation to an end to US drone attacks in the region.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that militant groups have for several years resisted polio vaccination campaigns in Pakistan - one of only four countries where the disease still exists.

A pamphlet released by the Taliban said that the "infidel world" is using the vaccination campaign "to uproot Muslims" and run spy networks.

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