18 militants killed in Orakzai


Afp April 09, 2010

ORAKZAI: Pakistani troops killed at least 18 militants in a gunfight after an attack on a checkpoint in Orakzai, a restive tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said today.

The clash took place in Bezot Khel village in Orakzai tribal district overnight, where troops are hunting Taliban insurgents. "Troops killed 15 militants in a gunfight which started after an attack on a checkpoint," local military spokesman Major Fazlur Rehman told AFP.

Rehman said the troops captured four militants wounded during the fighting and that three soldiers were also injured. Local administration official Sajjad Ahmad confirmed the incident and casualties.

The military has announced a running death toll of more than 100 militants in the Orakzai operation since late last month, but the figures cannot be verified independently because access to the remote area is extremely limited.

Orakzai is a former bastion of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan leader Hakimullah Mehsud, whom US officials believe probably died in a US drone attack in January. The Pakistani military says it has no evidence he is in the area. Under US pressure, Pakistan has in the past year significantly increased operations against militants in its tribal belt, which Washington has called the most dangerous region on Earth and a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda.

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