Twelve people, including five militants, as many non-combatants and two Pakistan Army soldiers were killed while 12 others, eight militants and four soldiers, were injured in fierce fighting between the security forces and militants on Monday.
Also, military officials said 12 tribal militants were taken into custody after they were trying to flee their positions in Tiarza area. There were reports of heavy clashes between security forces and tribal militants in various parts of the Mahsud-inhabited areas of South Waziristan Agency (SWA) such as Makin, Ladha, Torwam and Tiarza in which military authorities said militants suffered significant losses.
Besides gunship choppers and artillery shelling on militants’ positions, the Army called two fighters which blitzed the strongholds of Baitullah Mehsud’s fighters in Makin and Ladha towns. Military authorities said a number of militants were killed while their hideouts destroyed in the bombardment.
The Army also fired mortar and artillery shells from military camps in Razmak and Jandola on the militants’ hide-outs in Kaza Panga, Dher Narai, Shaga, Treekh Narai, Wrasta Bazeena and Shaktoi areas in which officials said five militants were killed.
They said intercepts from militants suggested that eight of their colleagues had sustained serious injuries.In Mohammad Nawaz Kot area near Makin, militants attacked a security post manned by the Pakistan Army soldiers.
The troops based at the post retaliated, ensuing a fierce gunbattle. Two soldiers were confirmed died and four others injured in the fighting. Bodies of the two soldiers were flown to Miramshah in North Waziristan Agency while the injured were airlifted to Bannu where they were admitted to a military hospital.
Similarly, five tribespeople, including two women and three men lost their lives when artillery shells hit their homes in Kotkai village on the night between Sunday and Monday. They belonged to Ashangi tribe, a clan of the Mahsud tribe.
Militants’ dreaded commander Qari Hussain, who was reported to have been killed in fighting, also hails from the same tribe. Tribal sources told The News that a number of houses had been damaged in the non-stop artillery shelling by security forces in Kotkai.
Similarly, residents of Torwam also complained that security forces were targeting civilian population. They claimed that dozens of houses owned by civilians were damaged in the artillery shelling.
In the same town, local residents said two soldiers were injured when fired at by militants. Tribal militants also attacked the Ladha FC fort where besides paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers, Pakistan Army troops are also based.
Similarly, militants fired 35-40 rockets on Razmak military camp in North Waziristan which officials said resulted in serious injuries to three soldiers. Military officials said they had made it clear to the tribal people that they would return the fire if attacked by hitting back at the area.
Also, the soldiers were reported to have captured some of the strategic hilltops in Angamal area which enabled them to oversee the entire area where the military authorities believed militants had set up their hideouts.
After getting control of Kotkai town, the soldiers were now planning to move to Srarogha which they had stormed a few days back and captured the British-era fort. The soldiers based in the fort were either killed or kidnapped by the militants while the historic fort was blown up.