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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 07:34 GMT 08:34 UK
'Policemen killed' in Waziristan
Three policemen have been shot dead by unidentified attackers in Pakistan's tribal region of North Waziristan, the authorities say.

The incident took place late on Wednesday night on a road linking the town of Bannu to the region's main town, Miranshah.

Separately, militants claim to have shot down a military helicopter which crashed on Wednesday.

Four soldiers died when the Bell 412 helicopter crashed in Bannu.

The latest attack took place when about a dozen armed men are said to have opened fire on the policemen while they were praying by their vehicles.

The attackers then escaped in the police vehicle.

"They killed an inspector and two constables and took away their vehicle," senior police officer Mohammad Iqbal told Reuters.

Police said a search operation has been launched in the area but there have been no arrests so far.

Chopper crash

A spokesman for local militants in North Waziristan, Abdullah Farhad, told the BBC via telephone that the helicopter crash on Wednesday had been caused by a missile fired by militants shortly after it took off from a military base in Bannu.

Earlier, army officials ruled out a missile attack and said the crash was probably caused by a technical fault.

Tens of thousands of Pakistani security forces are battling Taleban and al-Qaeda supporters in the country's restive tribal belt along its border with Afghanistan.

Dozens of tribal militants and government troops have been killed in clashes between the Taleban and Pakistani security forces this year.

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