KALAYA, April 11 Twenty-three militants were killed in clashes which followed a major attack by security forces in the Orakzai tribal region.

Officials claimed on Sunday that several bunkers built by militants had been destroyed on Saturday night.

They said the forces had set up their main base camp in Shereen Dera which was vital for the security of Kalaya.

Militants launched rocket and mortar attacks in Shereen Dera.

Sources said that security forces used helicopters and heavy artillery in the operation and killed 11 militants and captured five of their injured companions. They said troops had secured important heights in the area.

Clashes were also reported from Sangara and Saam areas where 12 militants were killed. Four militants were captured and their four hideouts were destroyed. Troops claimed to have also seized arms and ammunition.

The sources said that during search operations in Bezotkhel, Anjani, Storikhel and other areas troops had found a number of torture cells.

A statement issued by Inter Services Public Relations in Peshawar said that militants had started fleeing to Tirah valley of the adjacent Khyber tribal region and other parts of Fata and Afghanistan due to the successful operation in Orakzai.

The statement said Tirah, a stronghold of the proscribed Lashkar-i-Islam, had become a hub of Tahrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Swat Taliban and foreign militants.

It said that militants had established hideouts and training centres in different parts of Tirah.

According to the sources, the death toll in the Saturday night bombing in Tirah valley had increased to 81 and most of the dead were people taking part in rescue work.

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