At least 14 militants and four security officials were killed during a clash in the Tirah Valley on Friday, reported Express News.
Fighting between government soldiers and militants in the valley, which has strategically important routes into Afghanistan, has been underway for several months, but intensified recently with militants seizing control of key areas.
As general elections approach, security officials are now concerned that the routes that lead to Peshawar are also under the control of militants.
Around 40,000 residents of Tirah Valley have fled their homes after fighting in the last few weeks.
The humanitarian community is setting up operations to register the 40,000 IDPs and providing assistance at the New Durrani, Jalozai and Togh Sarai IDP camps
The conflict is a complicated one, involving at least three militant groups that also have internal divisions – the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Lashkar-e-Islam and the Ansarul Islam.
The LI and the AI have been battling each other for over seven years in the Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency, with turf wars being waged based on sectarian grounds.
The area became a stronghold of the TTP after operations were launched in the nearby Orakzai and Kurram tribal agencies.
The LI then sought an alliance with the TTP and the AI, previously a banned outfit, which was later considered a tribal militia that was protecting boundaries of the valley from “foreign influence”.
In June last year, the TTP took over the majority area held by the Kukikhel tribe, while reports of the presence of the Taliban from as far as the Mohmand Agency also surfaced. Hundreds of people were reportedly killed; however, because of the area being isolated, little information made it to the mainstream media, till almost 90 per cent of the valley went into the TTP’s hands.