PESHAWAR: At least 15 Taliban militants were killed and 16 wounded in clashes with security forces in the Orakzai tribal region on Monday, intelligence sources said. A soldier also died in a separate incident.
Hordes of heavily-armed militants attacked security checkpoints in Mazirghari and Bakhto Talab areas of Upper Orakzai Agency. Paramilitary troops manning the checkpoints retaliated, triggering gunfights that lasted two hours. Taliban insurgents also traded fire with security forces in Khawaga Thesheri and Talusar areas. Security forces claimed that at least 15 Taliban fighters were killed and 16 wounded in both incidents. Three militants were also apprehended.
Security forces claim to have killed around 540 Taliban insurgents in clashes in the last fortnight. They further claim that 388 were wounded and 66 were arrested. They claim that 16 paramilitary troops were also killed and 32 injured in fighting during this time. However, the claims could not be verified independently as journalists are not allowed to enter the area.
Paramilitary troops are closing in on suspected bases of militants in Khadezai and Manro Patay areas from three sides – Shinawari, Naryab and Samana. So far 10 houses have been destroyed in artillery shelling, sources said. However, there have been no casualties as local residents have already fled the region.Separately, a soldier was killed in a lightening incident in the scenic Samana area of Rabiakhel tribe in northern Orakzai on Monday.
Fighting continues between security forces and Taliban insurgents despite the fact that the military declared victory against militants in Orakzai Agency on June 1 when Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited the region.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 8th, 2010.
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