Seven soldiers have been killed and 16 wounded in an ambush by militants in Pakistan's northwest tribal belt, the military said Friday. The insurgents ambushed the troops Thursday in the Dattakhel area of North Waziristan, part of the lawless tribal region bordering Afghanistan, an area branded by Washington the most dangerous place on Earth. "The military convoy was carrying out a routine movement from Miranshah to Dattakhel," a statement from the military said. "In the ambush, seven soldiers embraced shahadat (martyrdom), including an officer and a junior commissioned officer, while 16 soldiers were injured. Two of the injured were in a critical condition, the statement said. Under US pressure, Pakistan has in the past year increased operations against militants in the tribal belt, which became a stronghold for extremists who fled neighbouring Afghanistan after the US-led invasion in late 2001.