Security forces repulsed a major Taliban attack on a strategic check-post in the Kurram tribal region, triggering bloody clashes that left 43 people, among them eight troops, dead and dozens others wounded, the military said on Tuesday.
“Security forces foiled miscreants’ attempt to dislodge a newly-established check-post on Jogi heights in the Mamozai area (of Central Kurram). And in the (ensuing) exchange of fire 35 miscreants were killed,” said a short statement issued by the military’s public relations wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations.
“Eight security personnel also embraced martyrdom and 15 were injured,” it added. Independent confirmation of death tolls is largely impossible in the tribal region. The wounded troops were ferried to the Combined Military Hospital in Thall area.
On January 25, security forces had wrenched back control of the strategic Jogi heights from Taliban insurgents. Six paramilitary Frontier Corps troops were killed in the operation described by the military as a ‘big success’.
“The post was established to sever a frequently used route from Tirah Valley (in Khyber Agency) into Kurram Agency and North Waziristan Agency by the miscreants,” said the military statements.
A senior military official earlier told AFP that ‘more than 300 Taliban attacked’ the check-post at around midnight on Monday. “Heavy fighting continued until Tuesday morning,” the military official said.
Security officials told The Express Tribune that helicopter gunships were called in to help the ground troops fight off the massive attack. The military statement said the attackers were unable to dislodge the check-post.
In July last year, security forces launched an offensive to evict Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan fighters from Kurram, mirroring operations that it has carried out across much of the rest of the tribal belt.
This operation proved to be a lengthy one because Kurram Agency borders militant-infested tribal regions of Khyber, Orakzai and North Waziristan on three sides and Afghanistan on the fourth side.
Since 2007 the sectarian strife in Kurram was hijacked by Taliban insurgents who use the region as a transit route for its fighters sneaking into Afghanistan to fight alongside their namesakes against the US-led Nato forces. The authorities have managed to reopen the strategic Thall-Parachinar highway, which closed to traffic for over three years. (With additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2012.
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