PESHAWAR/LANDI KOTAL: Fierce clashes between security forces and militants in parts of Khyber Agency’s Tirah Valley on Saturday resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. There was no let-up in the fighting when this report was filed.
According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), at least 80 militants were eliminated in the operation in Khyber Agency. It said seven soldiers also lost their lives during the operation.
An official said that security forces had suffered casualties in Operation Khyber-II. He said one army major was among the injured.
The bodies of soldiers were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital in Peshawar.
A spokesperson for the banned Lashkar-i-Islam (LI), Salahuddin Ayubi, told journalists on phone that bodies of 11 soldiers were in the custody of his group.
Seven troops lost their lives, major among the injured
He said the soldiers were killed during a ground offensive launched by security forces to take control of the LI stronghold in Sipah area.
The LI has recently announced merger with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
According to sources, at least 20 soldiers were either killed or wounded in the ongoing gunbattle in Tirah.
They said the fighting was raging between security forces and militants for control of an important ridge that overlooked the entire valley and adjacent areas of Afghanistan. Reinforcements have been dispatched to the embattled area.
The ridge had fallen to security forces on Friday, which militants claimed in a statement that they had recaptured. They said they had repulsed the offensive of security forces and that the fighting was still going on.
ISPR Director General Maj Gen Asim Bajwa said in a twitter message that the Khyber-II operation had been launched to clear areas further ahead, close to Pakistan-Afghan border.
He claimed that security forces had made steady progress.
Maj Gen Bajwa said militants suffered heavy losses and they were being dislodged from hideouts. So far, he added, 80 terrorists had been killed and approximately 100 others injured.
Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2015