At least nine security personnel were killed in clashes after Taliban insurgents attacked a check post in the South Waziristan tribal region – the last bastion of the notorious Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Security officials claimed that at least 18 marauding militants were also killed and many more wounded in the fighting which took place in the Sarwakai sub-division.
Around 30 militants armed with rockets and grenades stormed the check post in the Badar area, around 30 kilometres north of Wana, the main town of South Waziristan Agency, on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, a senior security official told The Express Tribune.
Nine soldiers were killed and six injured in the attack, the official said, while 18 militants died during fighting which continued till dawn. A second security official confirmed the military death toll. However, security forces successfully defended the check post and repulsed the attack.
Soon afterwards, security forces mounted an operation and targeted suspected hideouts of insurgents with heavy artillery – several bases were destroyed in the blitz, according to the official.
TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the clash took place during a military operation against them in the area.
“We resisted the advancing troops and killed 12 of them,” Ehsan told Peshawar-based journalists by phone from an undisclosed location.
He claimed that TTP fighters also captured seven security personnel who were later shot dead. According to him, the militants also seized a huge cache of heavy weapons.
The area is cut off to journalists and it was not possible to confirm the death toll independently. The militants usually give an exaggerated account of their successes and try to downplay their losses.
The Badar area was once a stranglehold of the TTP – but in 2009, security forces launched an operation, codenamed ‘Rahe-e-Nijat’, and flushed out militants from the region.
But sporadic attacks on security forces show that TTP insurgents have regrouped in the area.
Meanwhile, fighting continued for the sixth consecutive day in the Salarzai sub-division of Bajaur Agency.
Security forces claim to have inflicted heavy losses on militants in a fresh offensive in the Batwar area. Fighting in the area started after dozens of militants crossed over from neighbouring Kunar province of Afghanistan on Friday and attacked check posts of Pakistani security forces.
Scores of families are reportedly caught up in fighting between the security forces and Taliban insurgents. Those who have managed to flee are living in state-run schools and guest houses of local tribesmen.
ANP leader Gul Afzal Khan complained that thousands of people who have fled the fighting were living in pathetic conditions – with no food and medical facilities.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2012.
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