More than three dozen people were killed in the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Orakzai in north-western Pakistan, when militants launched an attack upon one of the army patrol teams. Army officials claimed that 35 militants and two soldiers were killed in the clashes, which is one of the bloodiest incidents so far this year. Some of the local media sources reported the army casualties in the today’s clash as five, but these claims could not be independently verified.
Colonel Asif Khan, one of the Army officers present in the region told that the attack occurred in the Ghaljo region of the Orakzai Agency. Jamil Khan, a government official from the neighbouring Kurram Agency claimed that 30 militants and five soldiers died during the clashes, and added that the militants had conducted a surprise attack upon an army team, which was undertaking a routine search operation in the region.
Meanwhile, the army claimed that they have snatched the control of the strategically important Dolanai mountaintop from the rebels. The area is believed to be a stronghold of the Taliban commander Mullah Toofan, who is the primary accused in dozens of attacks against the security forces and civilians in the region. Members of the Frontier Corps (FC) also participated in the joint military operation alongside the army.
The militant attack is believed to be in retaliation for the recent bombing of the militant bases in Mamozai area by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). More than a dozen militants had died in the air-strikes, which were conducted last week. The Orakzai Agency has become one of the most insurgent-affected areas of Pakistan, after the Pakistani Armed Forces flushed out most of the militants from the Waziristan and Swat regions.
The most powerful militant group operating in Pakistan, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack today. The group said that the attack was carried out as retaliation for the previous attacks by the government armed forces, targeting the TTP cadre. Two years ago, the United States had designated the TTP as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), and had offered rewards for the capture of its leaders, Wali ur-Rehman and Hakimullah Mehsud.