PESHAWAR: Nine military officials and 37 suspected militants were killed on Monday, in the deadliest battle for security forces during the nearly twomonth long operation in Orakzai Agency.
Two lieutenants were among the nine who died, identified as Lieutenant Murad and Lieutenant Hakimaullah. According to officials, the clashes took place near the border of Central and Upper Orakzai Agency. Security forces were advancing towards the Daboori area in the form of a convoy when several heavily armed militants attacked them in Wali Korona village of Mushti Khel.
The attack seems to have been premeditated by militants who were hiding in the mountains. Following the attack, security forces returned fire with artillery and helicopter gunships and killed 37 alleged militants. Fifty suspected militants and five security officials sustained injuries. Security forces also claimed to have destroyed militant hideouts in the area. Security officials were three kilometres from Daboori, a stronghold of the militants, on Sunday.
It was speculated by officials that they would be able to control Daboori by Monday as forces had already advanced to the market in the area. This is the first time security officials had moved to this area. Important militant commanders have been hiding here after the operation in South Waziristan. The operation in Orakzai started on March 24 this year. Casualty figures are released by the military. It is impossible to confirm statistics independently in what is a closed military zone inaccessible to aid workers and journalists.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 11th, 2010.