Nine government soldiers were wounded in the operation. The authorities believe the militants were members of al-Qaeda.
Northwest Pakistan and in particular, Northern and Southern Waziristan, are virtual no-go areas for government forces. The mountainous region is the stronghold of fiercely independent Pashtun tribes, and it is believed to be a safe haven for hundreds of Taliban fighters.
U.S. officials have said they believe the area may also be the hiding place of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.