Four soldiers, 25 Taliban killed in Pak military op

Islamabad: Four soldiers and 25 Taliban fighters were on Sunday killed in clashes in the restive Mohmand tribal region, where the Pakistani security forces carried out a ground and air offensive to capture a mountain occupied by the rebels.

The Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps and the Pakistan Air Force launched a joint operation on Saturday to evict terrorists from their stronghold of Walidad in Mohmand Agency, the military said.

After intense fighting, the troops secured Walidad Top, a strategic mountain, and surrounding areas after killing 25 terrorists.

Four soldiers were killed and eight more injured in the clashes, the military said.

The remaining militants in the area “fled across the border”, the military said.

The ground operation was preceded by air strikes on militant bunkers and positions on Walidad mountain.

Media reports said the militants attacked a check post in Baizai area of Mohmand Agency with rockets. The troops retaliated by firing artillery shells at militant hideouts.

The military said troops were consolidating their positions near Walidad Top and conducting search operations to trace the militants who escaped from the area.

The operation has the “full support of the people of Mohmand Agency”, the military said in a statement.

The clashes occurred in a region near the Afghan border, where militants frequently launch attacks on security forces.

Security sources said militants had established bases in remote mountainous areas and crossed into Afghanistan in the wake of operations by troops.

Pakistan says militants have recently launched several attacks on border check posts from Afghan soil.

The Foreign Ministry summoned Afghan diplomats on two occasions to protest over recent incursions.

Security sources said militants have carried out at least four incursions into Pakistani territory from Afghan soil in less than a month. The attacks killed nearly 40 Pakistani security personnel and civilians.

Pakistan raised the militant incursions from Afghan territory with President Hamid Karzai when he visited Islamabad during June 10-11.

Mr. Karzai promised to stop militants if it was proved that they were using Afghan soil.

Pakistani Taliban deputy chief Maulvi Faqir Muhammad said last week that he was in the northeastern Afghan province of Kunar and would attack Pakistani forces in Bajaur Agency.

Another Pakistani Taliban leader, Maulana Fazlullah, is believed to have crossed into Afghanistan’s Nuristan province and has regrouped his fighters there.

Fazlullah led a bloody campaign against Pakistani forces in the Swat valley during 2008-2009.