KHAR, Aug 17: Hundreds of tribesmen in Mohmand area of Bajaur have vowed to resist the local Taliban as security forces continued their operation in the troubled region.

Reports reaching here said that at least 20 militants had been killed in different areas of the agency on Saturday and Sunday.

The militants, meanwhile, shot dead two tribesmen in Alizai area.

Troops, backed by Cobra helicopters, have been using heavy artillery in the operation.

Local people said that armed volunteers were patrolling Lar Kali and Ber Kali round the clock to stop the Taliban entering the areas.

They said that anti-Taliban sentiments were intensifying and the tribesmen decided not to allow militant activities in their area.

Groups of people in Khar, the regional headquarters of the agency, are patrolling the town to check movement of the militants.

Displaced families, meanwhile, started returning to their homes after the political administration assured them that they would be provided protection.

Assistant political agent Iqbal Khattak told Dawn that the government’s writ had been restored in Khar and security forces had started patrolling areas which had earlier been besieged by the local Taliban.

The militants had also taken control of the main roads in the region and cut off the area from the rest of the country.

“Situation is normal now and people should start routine activities,” said Mr Khattak.

He said that about 130 displaced families had returned to the town on Sunday.

Officials said that over 250,000 people had left Bajaur for other areas after security forces launched an operation.

Sources said that troops attacked two vehicles in Mulla Syed area on Saturday evening and killed eight militants.

Suspected strongholds of the militants came under fire in Inayet Kali, Mulla Kali, Jar, Haji Lawang, Jar and Damadola.

According to sources, 12 militants were killed when some the positions held by them were heavily bombed.