PESHAWAR: Pakistani security forces on Tuesday claimed that they have killed 33 militants affiliated to the outlawed Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as fighter jets struck their hideouts in remote Tirah valley of Khyber agency and Mamozai area of Orakzai agency.
The TTP spokesman however has claimed that only two of their fighters have died in the air strikes while rest of those killed were civilians.
The claims however could not be verified from any independent sources, as the area is totally inaccessible to the media.
Security sources told Dawn.Com that the jet fighters have also destroyed ammunition and ration depots of the militants groups in Dawatoi, Bara Gat, Wocha Wona, and Nakai areas of the Khyber Agency during the last 24 hours operation.
They said that at least 23 militants have been killed while scores of others have been injured in the strikes.
In a separate strike in adjoining Mamozai area of Orakzai agency, the jet fighters have also destroyed four militants’ hideouts.
Assistant Political Agent Upper Tehsil Muhammad Rafiq says they have reports that at least ten militants have died in the strikes while their four secret hideouts have also been destroyed.
TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Eshan, reacting to the incidents said that they had lost only two fighters in the strikes and most of the people killed by the Pakistani fighter jets are innocent civilians.
“I can confirm that jets have targeted civilians’ houses on the border of Orakzai Agency, in Kokikhels area and there is confirmation of civilian deaths, including women and children,” he said, adding, “our bases are safe enough to escape the bombing and we know how to remain safe in the area.”
About the ongoing clashes with Ansarul Islam (AI) in Tirah Valley, Ehsan said, “We have lost only 7 fighters while 15 others have been injured in the war with the AI, but I don’t have any confirmation of deaths on the other side.”
To a query about capturing the AI headquarters in Bagh-Maidan, the TTP spokesman said, “I can’t say as we are in the middle of the war, but the TTP’s fight will continue until the elimination of government-backed fighters of Ansarul Islam.”
“Despite a peace agreement with the TTP they have killed more than 29 of our Mujahideen and have also stopped and blocked the supply routes to the tribesmen who are opposed to the AI ideology,” he added.
About the dissociation of Tariq Afridi group from the TTP as claimed by their spokesman Muhammad in media reports, Ehsan said, “I am not in knowledge of any spokesman by the name of Muhammad, who had claimed this.”
“But I must say… all us TTP fighters are unanimous in defeating Ansarul Islam, who are supported by the Pakistani government,” he added.
About Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) backing the TTP in the fight against the Ansarul Islam, he said, “TTP is on its own, but any support from the LI will be welcomed.”