At least 16 militants and two security officials were killed as fighting continued in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
In the Siplatoi area of South Waziristan, 10 militants and two security officials were killed as security forces conducted a search operation to clear militant hideouts.
Militants fired at the security forces during the search operation, a senior security official later confirmed to The Express Tribune.
“At least 10 militants were killed during clashes,” said an official, adding that two security personnel had also died.
The operation had begun in the early hours of the morning and the area had been reportedly been cleared of militants by evening.
The next phase of repatriation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of South Waziristan is expected to begin next month.
However, security developments on the ground will eventually determine when the process begins.
In a separate development, security forces pounded militant hideouts, launching a full-scale aerial operation in Bara in Khyber Agency.
Six militants were killed in the onslaught, while a number of their logistic centres were destroyed, an official said.
The standoff comes at the end of a week of turmoil in Khyber Agency, during which three security personnel were earlier killed. There have been frequent reports of clashes between members of Amn Lashkar (peace militia) and insurgents.
The operation began early morning as gunship helicopters targeted militant bases in the Naray Baba area of Bara.
The Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency is considered to be a Lashkar-e-Islam stronghold. The militants are present in the area despite a three-year counter-insurgency operation by security forces.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2012.
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