At least two soldiers were killed and 18 others injured in a clash between security forces and Taliban insurgents in the Orakzai tribal region on Tuesday.
Militants ambushed a military patrol in the Dolanai area of Barlas, Upper Orakzai Agency, according to military officials who claimed that more than 20 marauding militants were also killed in a retaliatory action from the security forces.
Troops began advancing around 2pm to flush out militants from the area when they were ambushed by militants. The insurgents used heavy weapons during the clash, according to a security official.
Another official, however, claimed that at least five troops were killed in the clash, while at least 23 were injured. The official added that security forces had also requested aerial assistance during the skirmish.
“More than 20 militants were killed when helicopter gunships pounded their positions in response to the request for air support,” said the official, adding that 15 militants were injured and eight hideouts being used by them were also destroyed during the air blitz.
The official added that the injured troops were airlifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Peshawar.
“Medics at the hospital said that some of the personnel were severely wounded,” the official added.
A Taliban spokesperson requesting anonymity, however, disputed the official death toll and put troop casualties at a higher number. The death toll could not be independently verified.
The military has been conducting operations against militants in Orakzai for months.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2012.