ISLAMABAD (AP) — Six soldiers were killed in a shootout with militants in a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban near the border with Afghanistan, the military said Thursday.

According to a military statement, the exchange took place in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of North Waziristan, a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups. Six soldiers were “martyred” and three militants were killed, the military said.

The statement provided no further details, and it was unclear who the assailants were or whether they suffered any casualties. The outlawed Pakistani Taliban, who are known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, have a strong presence in North Waziristan and elsewhere in the region.

TTP is allied with the Afghan Taliban. The 2021 Afghan Taliban takeover has emboldened the insurgents, who have stepped up attacks since then. The military in recent weeks has also carried out multiple raids on militant hideouts in the northwest, killing and arresting dozens of insurgents.