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23 militants, two soldiers killed in Orakzai, Bajaur

04 May, 2010

KALAYA/KHAR: Twenty-three militants and two security forces officials were killed in gun battles in Orakzai and Bajaur tribal agencies on Monday, sources said.

Eleven militants and two security forces personnel were killed in an exchange of fire when insurgents attacked a checkpoint in the Sturikhel area in Orakzai Agency, tribal sources said. The sources said the incident happened in the lower Tehsil of Orakzai Agency which was declared cleared of militants by security forces a week ago.

The sources said security forces repulsed the attack of militants after an intense exchange of fire. Before the incident, security forces had secured the entry and exit points in Sturikhel as an announcement about the return of the internally displaced persons to the area was announced.

There was strict screening of the IDPs returning to their areas by security forces to avoid the re-entry of militants, the sources said. Owing to the arrangements of the political administration in liaison with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, more than 324 families returned to the Sturikhel area from Kohat and its adjoining areas, the sources added.

On the other hand, a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Orakzai, Hafiz Saeed, warned the IDPs not to return home. He said as long as security forces were present in the area, there would be war-like situation in Orakzai. He had asked the IDPs to postpone their return to avoid losses, the sources said.

The new attack on security forces in the area had belied the claim of the officials that lower Tehsil was cleared of militants. Meanwhile, at least 12 militants, including a known commander, were killed and four others sustained serious injuries during security forces operation in the Ghundo area in Khar, the headquarters of Bajaur tribal region, official sources said.

Two soldiers also suffered injuries in the gunfight. The sources said security forces backed by artillery guns, tanks and gunship helicopters launched an intense operation against the militants in Ghundo, Doda and adjoining areas.

The forces first laid siege to the militants’ positions and then started targeting their hideouts with artillery guns and gunship helicopters. As a result, 11 militants and their commander, named Pervaiz, were killed and four others sustained injuries.

The sources said two security forces’ personnel, whose names were not disclosed to the media, were also wounded. The sources said this was the first major operation in which the forces succeeded to eliminate an important militant commander.

The sources said Pervaiz was wanted to security forces for a number of criminal acts and was on number three in the list of militants in Bajaur Agency. They added that the slain commander headed the Pervaiz group which was allegedly involved in kidnappings, killings and destruction of government installations. Soon after the operation, security forces imposed curfew and launched a search operation in Doda and the adjoining areas.


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