PESHAWAR: At least 20 militants and two paramilitary troops were killed in separate clashes in the tribal regions of Orakzai and Mohmand, security officials said on Wednesday.
At least 14 militants were killed and three soldiers wounded in fighting between the two sides in Sanpaga and Wranga areas of Upper Orakzai Agency, the officials said.
Local residents told The Express Tribune that security forces have flushed out Taliban insurgents from Zakhtan and Baghnak villages in the Dabori area. The two villages are inhibited by Alikhel tribe.
The fighting took place a day after security forces repulsed a major attack on a checkpoint in Karnski village located in the Ghaljo area. Six paramilitary troops and 40 Taliban fighters were killed in the skirmish.
Security forces secured Malikhel tribe’s areas a couple of weeks back. Troops are now setting up checkpoints in the areas under their control.
Last week, security forces declared victory against the Taliban in Orakzai Agency. But the military spokesperson later clarified that only major combat operations were over but “stabilisation operations” would continue. Local sources say it will take months, if not years, to restore normalcy in the region.
Over in Mohmand Agency, heavily-armed militants attacked a paramilitary checkpoint in the Shonkry area of Beazai sub-division close to the Pak-Afghan border. Troops manning the checkpoint retaliated, triggering a gunfight. Security forces confirmed that six militants and two soldiers died in the gunbattle.
“The exchange of fire continued for hours and both sides used heavy weapons against each other,” a local resident told The Express Tribune.
Seven militants and 10 security personnel were also wounded in the clash. The injured troops were airlifted to Peshawar for treatment, the sources said.
Last year, political authorities had claimed that Mohmand Agency was purged of Taliban insurgents and thousands of people displaced by fighting between militants and security forces could return to their homes. However, contrary to official claims, militants continue to target government buildings, such as schools and hospitals, though the frequency of such attacks has decreased.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 10th, 2010.
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