Warplanes pounded a militant stronghold in the Mohmand tribal region in an operation that left 25 insurgents dead, the military said on Sunday.
Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and paramilitary troops launched a joint operation “to evict terrorists’ stronghold of Wali Dad” on Saturday, it said.
“Ground operation was preceded with precise strikes by PAF aircraft on terrorists’ bunkers and positions,” it said.
“After an intensive fight, troops were able to secure Wali Dad Top and surrounding areas of the mountain and managed to kill 25 terrorists, while the remaining fled across the border,” it said. Four soldiers were killed and eight wounded.
Local officials earlier said three soldiers were killed and at least 13 wounded when dozens of Taliban stormed a checkpoint in the region near the Afghan border.
The pre-dawn attack was mounted in Baizai village of Mohmand facing the eastern Afghan province of Kunar, local administration chief Maqsood Hussain told AFP.
“The militants, believed to be more than 50 and armed with light and heavy weapons, launched an attack on Wali Dad Kor post, triggering a gunfight that lasted about an hour,” he said.
Three soldiers of the paramilitary Frontier Corps were killed and at least 13 wounded, he said adding that four militants were killed and an unspecified number wounded.
The military statement said “troops are consolidating their positions in the area and search operation for remnants is in progress.”
Meanwhile in the neighbouring Lower Dir district security forces did not allow over 300 families to leave for Kharkai area – the village where 14 police and paramilitary personnel were killed in a cross-border attack by militants on April 22. Kharkai village was vacated following the attack, sources told The Express Tribune.
They had taken shelter with their relatives in different parts of the district. Authorities say the area has yet not been cleared and is vulnerable to more militant attacks.
Sources said that the district administration is silent over the displacement and oblivious to the plight of those stranded in the region.
“We hardly manage to provide food for our children. We cannot even think of renting a house to shelter our families,” said Zardad Khan, 62, who had to leave his home after the authorities ordered to vacate Kharkai village. “We are not allowed even to collect our belongings,” he told The Express Tribune.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti had said during his recent visit to Dir that the fleeing Pakistani militants had found sanctuaries in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. He also alleged that US-led Nato forces were involved in the attack on the Kharkai checkpoint. (AFP with additional reporting by Islamuddin Sajid in Timargara)
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2011.