The fighters opened fire on Saturday night, targeting a fort in the Dattakhel area, west of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan semi-autonomous tribal region.

Major-General Shaukat Sultan, a military spokesman, said one soldier was killed and four wounded in the attack on the fort.

Residents said three children were wounded in a subsequent exchange of fire, but it was unclear which side had fired the rocket that hit their house.

It was also unknown whether the attackers suffered any casualties as they fled in the darkness.

In a separate rocket attack in the Shawal area of North Waziristan, the fighters wounded three paramilitary men.

Other clashes

In a separate incident, two fighters were wounded in a clash with police in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan in neighbouring South Waziristan, another area used as a hideout by pro-Taliban groups.

Musharraf has warned foreign
fighters to leave or be killed

The fighting erupted on Sunday after the men tried to disrupt a traditional fair to celebrate the start of spring.

A senior police officer said they saw the annual traditional event as un-Islamic and "had warned the organisers against holding it".

Last month, Pervez Musharraf, the president, warned foreign fighters hiding in the tribal region to leave Pakistan or be killed.

About 200 tribesmen were killed in clashes with security forces in March after they answered a call to arms by Muslim clerics following a special forces assault on an al-Qaeda camp in the area.

A large number of al-Qaeda remnants and Taliban are believed to have fled to Pakistan's tribal regions after US-led forces toppled the Taliban government in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington and New York.