104 terrorists, 8 troops killed in operation against Taliban
Peshawar: More than 100 militants, including foreign fighters, and eight soldiers were killed during an operation conducted to flush out the Taliban from Pakistan`s restive Khyber tribal region, a top army officer said on Wednesday.
Security forces killed 104 militants and injured 64 more in the 22-day operation in Maidan and Bagh areas of Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency, Maj Gen Humayun Aziz said.
The campaign, which covered 99 villages, was started on May 28 and ended on June 20. Troops cleared 200 sq km along the Afghan border of militants and restored the government`s writ, Aziz told journalists who visited Maidan area.
Several Uzbek terrorists were killed during the operation, he said.
The journalists were taken around the headquarters of the banned Ansar-ul-Islam group that was captured by troops and the base of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
The remaining militants have moved into Afghanistan to avoid capture by the forces, Aziz said. They burnt 90 per cent of the houses in Maidan and Bagh before leaving.
"Initially, we had reports about the presence of 1,000 to 1,500 terrorists in these areas but during the fighting, we found that their number was not more than 500," he said.
Taliban militants associated with various factions in Bajaur and Aurakzai tribal regions were present in Tirah Valley. The militants had occupied hilltops and targeted security forces from their positions before they were evicted, Aziz said.
About 80,000 people were displaced by the operation in Tirah Valley.
"We could not win this war without the support of the local people," Aziz said.
Security forces are now clearing landmines laid by the militants. The arms captured from the militants included weapons of Russian and Afghan origin.
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