KHYBER AGENCY – The security forces killed at least 17 militants in heavy overnight shelling in a restive northwestern tribal area, officials said on Saturday.
The militants were killed after the security forces repulsed an attack by at least 60 assailants on a check-post in Bara town, Khyber tribal district. “We have captured 17 dead bodies of Lashkar-e-Islam and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan militants after killing them in overnight action in Khyber tribal district,” a senior security official said.
“Our forces had responded to a joint attack by these two militant outfits. We are now handing over the bodies to the local administration for identification.” Another official on the ground in Bara confirmed the killings.
In a separate incident, three members of a local peace committee – a volunteer patrol force backed by the government to assist in the fight against the Taliban – were killed in an IED explosion. A local administration official in the Landi Kotal area of Khyber told AFP that the three were on a routine patrol when they were hit by the blast. Khyber is one of seven semi-autonomous tribal districts on the Afghan border, where Pakistan has been battling Islamist groups for a decade.
Militants have taken sanctuary in Khyber after fleeing strongholds in North Waziristan, where the military launched a large-scale offensive in June following a bloody raid on Karachi Airport that ended faltering peace talks between the government and the Taliban.
Pak army says it has killed more than 1,100 militants and lost around 100 soldiers since the start of the operation. The number and identity of those killed is difficult to verify as there is little regular media access to the conflict zone. More than 150,000 people have fled Khyber since a second military operation was launched there in October, targeting Taliban militants who had fled the assault on North Waziristan.