TANK, Jan 12: One policeman died while 44 suspected militants were arrested during search operations and clashes here on Saturday.

Police officials said that militants attacked a garrison, the Police Lines and a picket with rockets and heavy gunfire at 2am. The building of a vocational college where troops had been stationed also came under attack.

The security forces retaliated with gunfire and the clash went on for two hours.

Latifullah, a policeman who suffered an injury and was shifted to Peshawar for treatment, died at the hospital.

The ISPR said in a statement that security forces cordoned off the Umar Adda locality on the outskirts of the city and searched several houses there. It said that 44 militants, including nine “most wanted” elements, had been arrested.

However a police official said 25 suspects had been taken into custody and were shifted to the police station.

The forces also blocked Wana-Tank road and stopped supply of rations to South Waziristan.

Clashes were also reported from Shawal region of South Waziristan.

The forces also fired artillery shells from Manzai Fort, targeting positions in Spinkai Raghzai, a predominantly Mehsud area.

The forces intensified shelling and bombed hideouts of militant commander Qari Hussain in Makin area.

Sources said that an abandoned tannery occupied by Qari Hussain’s men in Makin was also targeted. They said the head of the Tehreek Taliban-i-Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud, held a meeting with his associates at an undisclosed location in the troubled region on Saturday and discussed the situation.