PESHAWAR, Pakistan – An operation to clear Taliban militants from a volatile area of Pakistan’s northwest on Monday left 36 dead including three soldiers and two members of a government supported peace committee, officials said.
Armed forces had launched the operation to clear the village of Batwar, which lies in the Bajaur tribal district, of Taliban militants who had crossed over from the neighbouring Kunar province of Afghanistan.
“During the clash, 31 militants were killed while three security personnel embraced shahadat (martyrdom),” a senior official of the paramilitary Frontier Corps told AFP.
“Two members of the peace committee also embraced shahadat (martyrdom) while five security personnel got injured,” he said.
Most of the area has now been cleared of militants, but the operation still continues to flush out the remaining fighters, another official said.
It was not possible to confirm the death toll independently because the far-flung district is inaccessible to media and aid workers.
Bajaur is one of seven districts in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal belt, where Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants have carved out strongholds used to plot attacks on Pakistan.
Pakistan has lost more than 3,000 soldiers in the fight against homegrown insurgents but has resisted US pressure to do more to eliminate havens used by those fighting the Americans in Afghanistan.