Twenty-three militants and two security personnel were killed in a clash during a search operation in Khadezai area of Upper Orakzai Agency, officials said.
A senior security official based in Peshawar confirmed the casualties and told The Express Tribune that forces confronted Taliban militants during a search operation in the village of Barlas, leading to an exchange of gunfire. Eleven officials were also injured in the clash, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity owing to the sensitivity of the situation.
“The operation was meant to clear the area of militants who have been consistently attacking security posts in Upper Orakzai,” explained the official.
Sources said the skirmishes lasted almost eight hours, starting late Thursday night and continuing till early Friday morning.
Security forces claimed around 23 militants were killed and some bodies recovered. However, independent verification of the incident was not possible as access to the area is limited and journalists are not permitted to enter.
“Thirteen trenches of militants were also destroyed and a large cache of arms was recovered,” said another official from the area, while claiming that security forces had taken control of Barlas.
Heavy artillery fire and shelling from helicopter gunships were reported from Dabori, Alikhel, Badama and Sra Garhi areas.
Deceased security personnel were identified as Wakil Ahmad and Sher Nawaz, while some of the injured included Asif, Tauseef, Aqal Badshah and Naveed. Those wounded were airlifted from the area to Peshawar.
On March 24, three security men were killed and five injured when militants stormed a check-post in Khadezai.
Meanwhile the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Darra Adam Khel chapter has threatened to attack two police stations, located on the outskirts of Peshawar. Security in the area has been put on high alert, especially near the Matani and Badabher police stations, sources told The Express Tribune on Friday.
The Taliban had issued threats to the police, warning them to prepare themselves for a massive attack.
“Both the main police stations and their outposts along the main Kohat Road and in the far-flung hinterlands have been put on alert,” said the source.
The head of Adezai peace militia, Dilawar Khan, when contacted told The Express Tribune that they did not know about the exact nature of the threat but police had told them to prepare themselves for any untoward incident.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2012.