F-16-REUTERS-670

PESHAWAR: At least 12 suspected militants were killed Monday when Pakistani military jets bombarded militant hideouts in Orakzai tribal region, DawnNews reported.

According to Assistant Political Agent Mohammad Rafeeq, security forces struck hideouts in upper Orakzai's Mamozai area, destroying at least five such hideouts.

Security officials claim that up to 92 per cent of Orakzai agency has been cleared of militants in the ongoing military offensive in the restive tribal region.

Orakzai is one of Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal regions in the northwest, where Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants are said to have carved out strongholds.

The area was the original base of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud before he moved to South Waziristan to take up the Taliban leadership after the death of his predecessor, Baituallah Mehsud.

Unlike the six other tribal agencies, however, Orakzai does not border Afghanistan. The rugged mountainous territory provides a crucial link for militants operating in other tribal regions, as it borders the regions of Khyber and Kurram on the Afghan frontier. It also borders Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Pakistan's main northwestern city, as well as the garrison town of Kohat.

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