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55 militants killed in airstrikes, gun battle in Pakistan

Last updated on: December 27, 2014 20:35 IST

Image: Pakistan Army soldiers stand guard during a patrol. Photograph: Mohsin Raza/Reuters

At least 55 militants were killed in Pakistan military airstrikes and a gun battle with the army in the volatile northwest tribal region where a major offensive to wipe out terrorists is on, officials said on Saturday.

"Troops raided a militant hideout on Friday in an area adjoining Orakzai and Khyber tribal districts -- near the Afghan border -- where the insurgents had gathered for a meeting," a military statement said.

"An intense battle took place, in which 16 terrorists were killed and 20 injured. Fleeing terrorists left behind nine dead bodies of their accomplices. Troops arrested two critically wounded militants while four soldiers were also wounded in the battle," it said.

However, media reports said the gun battle broke out after militants attacked the check posts in Shindara and Khazana Kandao in Orakzai Agency early on Saturday morning and Pakistani troops repulsed the assault.

Media reports had earlier put the death toll in the gun battle at 20 but later scaled it down to 16.

Meanwhile, 39 militants, including two terrorist commanders, were killed in airstrikes by Pakistani fighter jets in the restive Dattakhel area.

"Yesterday (Friday) Dattakhel strikes; Took out huge UG ammo depot, explosions heard even by pilots. Death toll rises to 39 incl 2 Terrorist comds," military spokesman Asim Bajwa tweeted.

Also on Friday, hundreds of terror suspects were arrested across Pakistan while 10 unregistered religious seminaries  were sealed in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as the the government stepped up its offensive against militants.

Orakzai is one of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous tribal regions in the northwest, where militants linked to Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda are believed to have their stronghold.

The army has intensified its offensive after the massacre of 150 people in Army Public School in Peshawar this month.      

According to the military, it has killed over 1,200 militants since the start of operation Zarb-e-Azb in June against militants in North Waziristan.


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