Story highlights

6 troops are killed during a militant attack

They are among more than 50 security forces killed so far this year

"These killings are demoralizing for any solider," a senior military official says

More than 3,000 Pakistani troops have died in a decade-long fight against Islamic militants

(CNN) —  

Militants killed six Pakistani soldiers and wounded four others during an attack in the northwest tribal region Wednesday, a senior government official said – part of a recent spike in attacks targeting security forces.

About 50 militants attacked security forces who were conducting a search operation, said Shahab Ali Shah, a senior government official in the area.

Shah said troops killed 10 militants in the clashes, which occurred in the area of Jogi in Kurram Agency, one of seven districts of Pakistan’s tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

The soldiers are among more than 50 Pakistani security forces killed in attacks throughout the country since January 1, according to a CNN tally. The increase in attacks comes after a relative lull late last year.

The number of soldiers killed so far this year is very high, but doesn’t approach figures in 2009 and 2010, when up to 150 troops at a time were killed in one month at the height of military operations in Pakistan’s tribal region, a senior Pakistani military official said.

More than 3,000 Pakistani soldiers have been in killed in the fight against Islamist militants over the past decade, the Pakistani Army says.

“These killings are demoralizing for any soldier,” said the senior military official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Last month, officials from two Pakistani Taliban factions told CNN they were holding peace talks in two districts in the tribal region with representatives of the Pakistani government. Government officials have not verified that the talks are taking place, but have said they are continuing their policy of “dialogue, deterrence, and development.”

But in some areas, militants are getting stronger, regrouping and banding together to take on security forces, the senior military official said.

Brutal tactics by Taliban militants targeting Pakistani troops aren’t new, CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen said.

“Basically, any kind of Pakistani military activity that impinges on their own freedom of movement, they respond,” he said. “They’ve been attacking frontier posts for seven years. They’ve been kidnapping soldiers in large numbers.”