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15 militants and 4 soldiers killed in Khyber operation

KHYBER: Fifteen militants were killed and scores of others were injured in Operation Khyber – II which commenced on July 19 and completed on the 20th as security forces cleared key militant transit points. Four soldiers also died during the gunbattles, officials said.

According to sources that the operation launched in the Kharmatung area, between Frontier Region Kohat and Khyber tribal region’s Bara, had been completed and most of the key areas which served as passage points for insurgents had been cleared.

Sources said Surgar and Shergahr heights were being combed after the clearance of Kharmatung and scores of insurgent hideouts had been secured while two militant bases had been destroyed.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) moreover confirmed that four soldiers had died during the clearing operation as security forces made headway in most of these areas.

Khyber is among Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts near the Afghan border, rife with homegrown insurgents and home to religious extremist organisations including the Al Qaeda.

The remote Tirah valley holds strategic significance for militant groups. On one side, it shares a border with Afghanistan. On the other it leads to the plains of Bara, which connect the agency to the outskirts of Peshawar.

Khyber also links several agencies to each other, serving as a north-south route within Fata. The region has been long fought over by a mix of militant organisations, including the TTP, the Ansarul Islam and Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar-i-Islam.