PESHAWAR: At least 40 suspected militants were killed and 37 injured in air and ground offensives by the armed forces in Upper Orakzai Agency on Saturday.
The air strikes were carried out in two phases, security officials said. In the first phase, jets targeted Ghiljo, Tor Kanay, Mamozai, Saifal Darra and Mulla Patti areas killing 12 alleged militants and injuring 10 others. Officials claimed that several militant hideouts were destroyed in the attack.
Later in the day, helicopter gunships shelled militant hideouts in Ghiljo, Tor Kanay, Saragarhi, Tooti Mela and Shakar Tangi areas killing 15 suspected militants and injuring 27 others.
Meanwhile, according to the military, troops have moved into Ghilo, where 13 alleged militants were killed and many injured in ground attacks.
Security forces claim to have destroyed two hideouts as well as vehicles belonging to suspected militants.
The casualty figures however, can not be independently verified as the Orakzai Agency is closed to journalists and roads leading to the area have been closed since the beginning of the military operation.
Additionally, security forces targeted various areas in Ismail Zai by firing mortar shells from Zargari Shnawari, Shahu Khel in Hangu and Fort Lockhart located in the Samana Range of the Hindukush Mountains.
The military onslaught has continued in the area despite the army’s declaration of victory.
On June 1, the military announced an end to the operation and said the area had been cleared of militants. Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, during his visit to Orakzai and neighbouring Kurram tribal regions, had also said that displaced people could return to their homes soon.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 6th, 2010.