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PESHAWAR, Nov 24: Security forces on Monday claimed to have killed 25 hardcore militants during a military operation in the restive Michini area. They also claimed arresting 40 militants and seizing a huge quantity of arms and ammunition.

Addressing a press conference at a military base camp in Shno Ghondai area near Mohmand Agency, NWFP’s IGP Malik Naveed said that security forces controlled most of the areas and the operation was continuing to round up the militants.

He said that some foreigners were also killed in the operation.

He said the operation had to be launched because the militants had disturbed peace and carried out heinous crimes, like kidnapping and killing and looting innocent people.

During the operation, he said, a police constable and two Frontier Constabulary personnel were killed. He said the situation in four villages of the Michini area was yet to be controlled.

The security forces, he said, were concentrating on hideouts of Taliban who had been taking hostages and occupying houses of poor people for attacking security forces.

He said that curfew in the area had been relaxed and local people were being provided with food through the World Food Programme.

Mr Naveed said that after completion of the operation, the legal status of the 25 disputed villages in Michini would be changed and these would be considered as settled area where law-enforcement agencies would set up checkpoints to maintain law and order.

He announced that there would be a special quota for people of the village in police recruitment.

About incentives for police force, he said the government had already doubled the death compensation. He said the policemen involved in the operation area were getting allowances such as risk allowance, daily allowance and ration allowance.

Peshawar Division Commissioner Arbab Shahrukh said that the situation in some villages including Qila Shah Baig and Badi Korona was under control.

During the operation, he said, many hideouts of militants had been destroyed and other dens would be demolished with the advance of security forces. He said the government did not want to harm innocent people, but saboteurs would not be pardoned.

The IGP appealed to the people to cooperate with the security forces in the interest of the country and in their own interest.

He said peace was not possible without people’s cooperation.

Colonel Shahid said that arms and ammunition seized from Taliban included artillery and mortar shells, anti-tank rockets, 82m mortars, a variety of watches used in time-bombs, audio cassettes and literature, guide books for preparing explosives, suicide jackets, machines for preparing explosives and 20 cans of acid used in explosives.