KURRAM AGENCY: Six troops and 17 Taliban insurgents were killed as paramilitary troops wrenched back the control of the Jogi area in Central Kurram Agency in a battle that lasted for more than 24 hours.
A senior security official confirmed the casualties. “Control of Jogi was an important victory for the security forces in an area that had been a bone of contention in the agency,” the official told The Express Tribune requesting his name not be mentioned in the report.
AFP quoted another senior official of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) as saying that the troops are still engaged in a search and cordon operation after clearing most of the area.
Jogi is the area where security forces have consistently been attacked by militants. Tuesday’s fighting also left two security officials injured after an advancing party came under an attack from militants, sources said. The FC official put the number of attacking militants at 50.
Helicopter gunships and warplanes pounded suspected hideouts of militants in the area and security forces claimed 17 militants were killed in the blitz.
“It will be difficult for the militants to attack us now, and easy for us to clear the area,” said the official.
The air strikes targeted the militant factions which want to sabotage a truce between Shia and Sunni tribesmen which has resulted in the reopening of the Thall-Parachinar-Sada highway after a span of almost three years.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2012.