Clash in Orakzai kills at least 20 militants, five soldiers: officials
KALAYA: At least five Pakistani soldiers were killed on Tuesday as security forces launched a decisive strike on the Dolanai mountain top in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 20 militants in the battle for the Taliban stronghold, security officials said.
At least 18 other soldiers were also reported to be injured in the clash.
According to some officials, security forces killed up to 25 militants as they overran the Dolanai mountaintop — located in Ghaljo tehsil of Orakzai agency – taking control of the strategic stronghold of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Mullah Toofan after fierce fighting.
Frontier Corps spokesman Major Fazl confirmed 25 militants had been killed, further claiming that seven others injured in the gun battle, while security forces lost only three soldiers and 19 others, including a captain, were injured.
Other sources said five soldiers had died during the operation and 18 soldiers, who were injured, had been shifted to various hospitals via helicopter.
However, a report by Reuters quoting unnamed military officials said the clash began when militants ambushed a military patrol. The report said 20 militants as well as five soldiers were killed, with 18 other soldiers injured in the ambush.
Another report by the Associated Press (AP) said 30 militants were killed when insurgents ambushed security forces during a routine search in the region. The report quoted government official Jamil Khan, administrator for Parachinar, the capital of the neighboring Kurram agency.
The reports could not be independently verified as journalists have restricted access in the tribal regions, while the remoteness of Orakzai region makes it impossible to verify the government’s accounts. Militants also often dispute official military figures or death tolls.
The Pakistan military has been conducting operations against militants in Orakzai for months.
Speaking to Dawn.com, Political Tehsildar Hameed Khan said that the fall of Dalonai would help in advance towards Tor Samaat, which is the home town of TTP commander Mullah ‘Toofan’ (Urdu for storm).
Several militant groups are active in the northwestern semi-autonomous tribal regions, near the border with Afghanistan, including the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its offshoots, responsible for many of the bombings across the country in recent years.