50 militants killed in Pak tribal belt

Islamabad: Backed by fighter jets and artillery, Pakistan security forces attacked Taliban hideouts in the country`s restive tribal belt, killing at least 50 militants while losing four of their own men, officials said today.

The aerial and ground bombardment against the militant positions was part of an operation codenamed `Brekhna` (lightning) aimed at flushing Taliban fighters out of areas along the Afghan border.

The security forces, backed by combat jets, helicopter gunships and artillery, pounded militant hideouts in Suran Darra, Mosakhel, Bahadar Kalley, Matai, Shinwari and Ghalingar areas of Mohmand tribal agency on Wednesday night.

Officials said the security forces were combing areas along the Afghan border and clearing mines planted by the militants.

They told the media that at least 50 militants were killed and several others injured in air strikes that destroyed some of the hideouts as well as clashes between the two sides.

Among the dead were ten militants who were killed in a clash in Wali Dad Kor area and nine who died in air strikes in Sheikh Baba area.

Four security personnel were also killed and eight more injured in an attack by militants at Wali Dad Kor.

Meanwhile, a stray shell hit a house in Rahmat Kor area,, killing a boy and injuring two persons.

A member of a bomb disposal squad was injured when a mine exploded near a Frontier Corps post.

Two more security personnel were injured in a mine blast in Chenari area.

Sajjad Mohmand, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman for Mohmand tribal agency, told reporters on phone that the militants had inflicted "heavy losses" on the security forces.

The claim could not be independently confirmed.

Officials of the political administration of Mohmand tribal agency claimed authorities had destroyed poppy crops in different areas of the region.