Islamabad: At least 15 people, including
members of an anti-Taliban militia, were killed today in a
clash between security forces and heavily-armed militants in
the restive Khyber tribal region of northwest Pakistan.
The clash began when militants attacked a check post
jointly manned by security forces and volunteers of an
anti-Taliban militia in Bara area of Khyber tribal agency.
The militants used heavy weapons, including
rocket-propelled grenades, to target the check post, TV
Five members of the pro-government militia were killed
instantly and several others were injured.
Hundreds of tribesmen rushed to the check post and
launched a counter-attack that killed 10 militants.
There were reports that a security personnel too was
killed but this could not be independently confirmed.
Reports said both sides exchanged fire for several hours
and some of the militants fled after the tribal volunteers put
up strong resistance.
More security personnel were sent to the area and they
launched a search operation to trace the militants.
There was no report of any arrests.
The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Islam
are currently active in Khyber and frequently attack security
forces and pro-government tribesmen.
In the past, militant groups have carried out deadly
attacks on tribesmen in Khyber, a key route for transporting
supplies to NATO forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.
NATO supply trucks and oil tankers routinely come under
attack in Khyber Agency.
A Taliban suicide bomber attacked worshippers at a mosque
in the region last month and killed nearly 60 people.
The Taliban said they attacked the mosque as people in
the area had formed a `lashkar` or private militia against
Tribesmen have formed militias in the tribal belt and
other militant-infested areas in northwest Pakistan to defend
themselves from Taliban attacks.