Pakistani troops kill 54 militants in NW: Official

Pak troops were doing routine patrolling in Mohmand when they were attacked.

Last Updated: Apr 08, 2011, 12:10 PM IST

Khar: Pakistani security forces backed by helicopter gunships and jets killed 54 alleged militants in a northwest tribal region near the Afghan border where the military has repeatedly tried to flush out the Taliban, a government official said on Friday. Three troops also died in the clashes.

The battle in the Mohmand tribal region on Thursday underscored the difficulty Pakistan has had in keeping areas clear of militants after initial operations, an area the United States has pointed to as a weakness in its counter-insurgency efforts.

Pakistani troops were doing routine patrolling in the Paizai area of Mohmand when they came under attack, said Maqsood Hasan, a deputy administrator in the region. The troops returned fire and killed 10 insurgents, but also called for backup in the air, Hasan said.

The Army sent helicopters and jets to target militant positions, killing 44 more insurgents and wounding several others, Hasan said. He noted that two or three civilians died when a mortar shell hit a home in the region, but he would not speculate which side fired the shell.

It is nearly impossible to independently verify the information. Pakistan`s military rarely gives details about how it distinguishes militants from civilians, and access to the country`s tribal areas, where al Qaeda and the Taliban have long had hideouts, is severely restricted.

Bureau Report