At least 35 people, including 11 security personnel and 24 militants, were killed when Taliban militants attacked security checkposts in the Mohmand tribal region early on Friday, security officials said.
At least five soldiers and 12 militants also sustained injuries in the clashes, officials said.
A security official in Peshawar told The Express Tribune that the skirmishes happened early on Friday, when around 150 militants attacked five security posts in the Baezai and Safi tehsils of Mohmand Agency.
The official said that security forces repulsed the attack forcing the militants to retreat, leaving behind 24 bodies. The official said that security forces were targeting suspected militant hideouts in the area.
According to local sources, the militants targeted Baidmani and Ghanam Shah checkposts in Baezai sub-division and the Ziarat post in Safi tehsil.
They said that the area where the attacks were mounted is situated some 50 kilometres north of agency headquarters Ghalanai. They said Alingar checkpost is situated close to the border of Bajaur Agency and Baidmani is close to the Pak-Afghan border.
Sources said that security forces have recovered the bodies of seven soldiers.
Meanwhile, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Mohmand chapter spokesperson Sajjad Mohmand phoned local reporters and claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Sajjad claimed that at least 12 soldiers were killed in the attack and that they had taken two soldiers hostage. He said that the bodies of six soldiers were also in their custody. However, a security official denied this.
Earlier this month, more than 40 tribesmen were killed and scores of others injured in twin suicide attacks in a political administration office enclave in Ghalanai. In addition to this, militants continued their attacks on schools in the agency situated in the north of Peshawar.
Though the militants are facing the heat of military action in other parts of the tribal belt and parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, they are still posing a threat to law and order in Mohmand Agency.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2010.
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