Twenty-three Pakistani soldiers and 110 militants have been killed in fierce fighting in a strategic area of northwest Pakistan. File photo:

Islamabad - Ongoing fighting in Pakistan's north-western tribal territory has left 13 soldiers and more than 100 Taliban rebels dead, security officials said on Tuesday.

The fighting, which began on Friday, followed weeks of clashes between rival Islamist militias to control strategic heights in Tirah, a remote valley in the Khyber tribal district bordering Afghanistan, the officials told reporters on condition of anonymity.

“Our 13 soldiers have embraced martyrdom but we have inflicted heavy casualties on the miscreants, killing more than 100 of them,” one of the officials said.

The military was also using jet fighters to strafe the rebel positions, several of which overlook the neighbouring tribal districts of Kurram and Orakzai, and one of the supply routes used by the security forces deployed in the region.

There was no independent confirmation of the death toll because the tribal belt is largely off limits for journalists.

Taliban-linked banned group Lashkar-e-Islam had initially attacked positions held by its rival militia Ansar-ul-Islam, which had reportedly allied itself with pro-government tribesmen to push back the militants.

Nearly 44 000 people, mostly women and children, have been displaced from the conflict zone after tensions between Islamist militias escalated around mid-March. - Sapa-dpa