Local media reported that a total of 37 people have been killed in the fighting so far in the Salarzai tehsil of Bajaur Agency, one of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. An army operation is ongoing in the area for the last four days, triggered by cross border attacks conducted by insurgents affiliated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). According to the army officials, the dead included 31 militants, four soldiers and two members of a pro-Pakistani militia group. Most of the fighting took place in the remote Batwar region, located close to the Afghan border.
More than 300 militants from the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan had crossed over to the Pakistani side of the border on August 23rd, attacking border posts, and taking control of border villages. The army had launched the military operation, to take control of six border villages, which were captured by the TTP insurgents.
In addition to the infantry battalions of the army, a number of helicopter gunships of the Pakistani Armed Forces also took part in the counter-insurgency operations. The army also used long-range heavy artillery cannons to demolish the rebel hideouts. However, the Army officials said that bad weather was adversely affecting their operations, by limiting the mobility of the attack helicopters.
A tribal leader from the local Salarzai Amn Lashkar militia, which is fighting alongside the army, claimed that rebels have been cleared from most of the areas of Salarzai. However, he admitted that the militia members are facing heavy resistance in the mountainous Batwar region, where dozens of insurgents are believed to have taken refuge. The army is currently pounding the region with heavy artillery guns.
Ihsanullah Ihsan, the official spokesperson of the TTP claimed that they have killed several Pakistani soldiers during the last three days of fighting. He also claimed that a number of the pro-government militiamen were also killed by the insurgents. As a proof for his claims, Ihsan claimed that he is ready to handover 8 dead bodies of soldiers and pro-government militiamen, who were killed during the recent fighting.
The Taliban operative also denied media reports that the Army had recaptured some of the border villages, which were seized by the militants this week. Ihsan also stated that a Pakistani army tank has been destroyed by the insurgents, in addition to several other army vehicles.