By: Manzoor Ali
PESHAWAR: Security forces claim to have killed at least 23 Taliban insurgents in a gunfight during a search operation in Lower Dir district on Tuesday.
Showdown in Kalpani village during search operation
The gunfight took place in the Kalpani village, in the Maidan tehsil of Lower Dir, the district where four suicide car bombers attacked a paramilitary checkpoint, killing one soldier in the early hours of Monday, Operation Commander in Lower Dir, Colonel Nadeem Mirza, told reporters on Tuesday.
He said policemen, army and paramilitary personnel were carrying out a joint search operation in the village when a group of about 50 insurgents opened fire on them, triggering the gunfight.”Security personnel killed 23 militants and destroyed three of their hideouts in the village,” he said, adding that a huge cache of arms and ammunition was also recovered from the hideouts.
Medics at the Timergarah district headquarters hospital confirmed that they have received bodies of 14 militants killed in Tuesday’s clash.
On Monday four suicide bombers tried to ram their explosives-laden vehicles into the headquarters of the paramilitary Balambet Scouts in the Timergarah area of Lower Dir district.
Security officials claimed that the bombers were killed and their vehicles destroyed in the ensuing battle with paramilitary troops. However, chief of the Dir chapter of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Hafizullah, claimed that they freed their colleagues imprisoned in the headquarters of the paramilitary force.
Colonel Mirza, however, rejected Hafizullah’s claim, saying the paramilitary troops had thwarted the attack and that no militant was freed during the attack. He said security forces were in full control of the situation in Lower Dir district.
Monday’s in-synch suicide attack was the third major militant hit this year. Earlier, eight persons, including three US soldiers, were killed in a militant strike in February. On April 5, more than 50 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a political rally organised by the ruling Awami National Party to celebrate the renaming of the NWFP Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in Timergarah.
Separately, Taliban militants destroyed two state-run schools in the Bajaur tribal region on Tuesday, sources said.