By Zahir Shah Sherazi
PESHAWAR — At least 21 suspected terrorists were killed while several others injured during a major clearance operation in Spin Qamar area of Khyber Agency, Pakistan military claimed on Wednesday.
“Eight soldiers embraced shahdat (martyrdom) during fierce fighting and exchange of fire with terrorists,” said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
This is second phase of Khyber operation named as Khyber-II.
In a separate incident, two members of a peace committee have been injured in Gomal Zam area. One of them is stated to be in critical condition.
The information, however, could not be verified independently as access for journalists is restricted in the area.
Earlier in the day, DG ISPR Maj Gen Asim Bajwa told reporters that more than 1,100 terrorists were killed during Zarb-i-Azb and 44 others during Khyber-I operation. However, he once again declined to give a timeframe for the end of the operations underway in North Waziristan and Khyber, saying these would continue in the two tribal regions until the areas were cleared.
Khyber is among Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts near the Afghan border, rife with homegrown insurgents and foreign militants. These are also home to religious extremist organisations including Al Qaeda.
The plains of Bara hold strategic significance for militant groups as they connect the agency to the outskirts of Peshawar. The area was being used by militants to put pressure on the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa capital. In recent weeks, police and military posts in and around Peshawar have come under attack.
The key area also straddles the Nato supply line into Afghanistan.
Khyber also links several agencies to each other, serving as a north-south route within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). The region has been long fought over by a mix of militant organisations, including the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Ansarul Islam and Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar-i-Islam.-Dawn