PESHAWAR: Six soldiers of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) were killed on Tuesday when Taliban fighters stormed a checkpoint in the Orakzai tribal region, prompting a retaliatory strike by troops that left 40 insurgents dead, officials said.
The clash took place in Karnski village located in the Ghaljo area of Upper Orakzai Agency, where security forces have been fighting Taliban insurgents since March 24.
Fifteen security personnel and 20 militants were also wounded in the clash, a spokesman for the paramilitary FC said.
He said the militants were armed with heavy weapons and that troops responded with heavy artillery.
Local administration official Sajjad Ahmed confirmed the casualties and said dozens of armed militants were involved in the attack.
Independent confirmation of the casualty figures was not possible however because the area is a closed military zone inaccessible to aid workers and journalists.
Security forces opened a new front in Orakzai on March 24 in an attempt to flush out Taliban who escaped a major assault last year on South Waziristan, a headquarters for the leadership of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Last week, security forces declared victory against the Taliban in Orakzai Agency. But the military spokesperson later said that major combat operations are over but “stabilisation operations” would continue.
A military spokesman in Peshawar said lower Orakzai was now under government control, while intelligence sources said troops were engaged in the more volatile central and upper Orakzai areas. (With additional input from AFP)
Published in the Express Tribune, June 9th, 2010.