DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan -- The Pakistani military says Islamic militants armed with rockets overran a remote military outpost close to the Afghan border killing seven troops.
Army spokesman Maj.-Gen. Athar Abbasan says fifteen men from the garrison have reached safety in a nearby army base while 20 others are missing.
It was the first time rebels captured a government position since October, when they seized several police stations and military posts in Swat valley.
Abbas says government artillery has shelled the region where the Sararogha Fort -- manned by the paramilitary Frontier Corps -- was located.
The army says 50 attackers died in the assault, but it was not immediately possible to verify the army's claim.
The military setback will likely contribute to the impression that the government of President Pervez Musharraf is failing to contain a growing Islamist insurgency ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for Feb. 18.
Pakistan has been hit by about 20 suicide attacks in the past three months in which about 400 people died, including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Bhutto's political party said it sent a letter to the United Nations asking it to form a committee to investigate her Dec. 27 assassination. The party says it does not trust Musharraf's government to probe the killing.
It was unlikely the United Nations will consider the request because it did not come from the government, which has said it will not seek the help of the world body.
Opposition leaders blame Musharraf for the upsurge in extremist violence.
"Musharraf is the root cause of all problems,'' said Nawaz Sharif, a leading opposition politician and former prime minister who was overthrown by Musharraf in a 1999 coup.
"If he goes, 95 per cent problems of this country will be solved. There will be no bomb blasts, there will be no missile attacks,'' Sharif told journalists in his home town of Lahore.
Also Wednesday, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry announced Musharraf will travel next week to Belgium, France, Switzerland and Britain to meet with European leaders and attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.