32 including seven Pakistani troops killed in Bajaur tribal region
Violence in Pakistan’s restive Bajaur tribal region on Wednesday claimed 32 lives, including seven troops, 25 suspected militants and two anti-militancy tribal volunteers, while several others including two senior militant commanders were killed as jetfighters and gunship helicopters bombed positions of rebels.Two members of tribal volunteer force, raised by tribesmen to fight militants, were killed and seven injured when their double-cabin pickup truck hit a remote-controlled explosive device in Salarzai area of Bajaur Agency. According to the paramilitary Frontier Corps, 25 suspected militants were killed and several others injured in the daylong bombing by jetfighters, gunship helicopters and artillery shelling by the security forces on strongholds of militants. Military officials said seven army soldiers were killed in fierce clashes between the security forces and militants in Rashakai area where militants attacked a government school where troops were stationed. “Soon after the clash between militants and security forces, gunship helicopters and jetfighters arrived and started pounding hideouts of the militants,” said a military official based in Khar, headquarters of Bajaur Agency. The military official, who wished not to be identified, said the security forces also targeted suspected hideouts of militants in various areas with artillery guns. He said the action was followed by a search operation but no arrest was made. However, he added, the troops destroyed several hideouts of the militants and recovered huge cache of arms and ammunition. The militant sources said two senior Taliban commanders — Qari Ziaur Rahman and Qari Wali Rahman — were injured in clashes with the security forces. Qari Ziaur Rahman, who is an Afghan Taliban commander and was earlier operating in Afghanistan’s Nuristan and Kunar provinces against US-led Nato forces, was reportedly injured in clashes with security forces near Rashakai. Qari Wali Rahman, who is head of Jaishul Islam militant organisation and is close to Qari Ziaur Rahman, was seriously injured when an artillery shell fell near him near Mamond area. According to his spokesman, Qari Saifullah, Qari Wali Rahman was critically injured and was being kept at a private health facility run by the militants. He said his condition was deteriorating fast.