Pakistani military officials say security forces killed three al-Qaida -linked militants and wounded three others during a clash today (Wednesday) in a tribal region near the Afghan border.

They say fighting broke out when militants traveling in a van opened fire on troops at a military checkpoint in a small town (Azam Warsak) near South Waziristan.

Tuesday, militants killed 14 people in an attack on a nearby village, where tribal elders were meeting to discuss ways to evict foreign militants from the area.

An al-Qaida-linked leader and former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, Abdullah Meshud, is believed to be hiding in the area.

South Waziristan is also considered a possible hideout of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

There have been several fierce battles between Pakistan's security forces and al-Qaida-linked militants in the region since March. The army says at least 246 militants and 171 troops have been killed.