Islamabad: Pakistan Army in a major operation killed 34 militants in the restive north-western region as they launched a new big manhunt to nab the Taliban top commander in Swat, Maulana Fazlullah, who is reported to be badly injured.
Continuing their sweep in the Swat region, troops also captured 18 militants while 12 more surrendered, a statement issued by the military said.
It said a soldier had been killed in fresh fighting which erupted in the scenic valley which has been under a military campaign for the past five months.
Maintaining an intensity in their operations, troops surrounded Manglor and Malam Jabba areas in Swat in their search for Fazlullah, who has been on the run since the Army launched operations against the Taliban in May.
The manhunt for Fazlullah known also as Mullah FM was started by the Army apparently buoyed by their success in capturing two top Taliban commanders yesterday including the outfits spokesman Muslim Khan.
After the capture of number of Taliban commanders, Army claimed that total rout was facing the terrorists, even as militants acknowledged that their outfit had been weakened.
Giving details of the fresh engagements, Army spokesman said 22 militants were killed in clashes with paramilitary troops in Tirah Valley of the Khyber tribal region, the Frontier Corps said. Thirteen vehicles and three hideouts were also destroyed by the security forces.
The Frontier Corps has been conducting operations against the banned Lashkar-e-Islam in Khyber Agency since the beginning of this month.
In the South Waziristan Agency, four militants were killed and several hideouts destroyed in air strikes by jet fighters, TV news channels reported.
In the Bajaur tribal region, troops carried out a search operation at Chinar on the basis of a tip-off and killed three Afghan militants, the military said.
Five militants and a soldier were killed when an exchange of fire erupted while security forces were conducting a search operation near Banjot in Swat valley. Another soldier was injured in the skirmish. Nine militants were later captured by the troops.
As troops continued search and clearance operations across Swat and other parts of the Malakand division, two militants were apprehended near Khwazakhela.
Seven suspects were captured at Qambar, Kuza Banda and Nao. A dozen militants surrendered to security forces at Barshaur, Uzbak Banda and Kabal in Swat.
Meanwhile, Pakistani authorities today sacked 350 personnel of a tribal militia in the Khyber Agency after they failed to report for duties following a threat from a militant commander in the region.
Banned Lashkar-e-Islam chief Mangal Bagh Afridi had warned personnel of the Khasadar force that they would be killed if they did not quit their jobs.
In a broadcast on his illegal FM radio station on Thursday, Afridi also warned men from the region that their homes would be destroyed if they joined the militia.