Dozens killed as Pakistan army takes on Taliban

At least 87 people killed in clashes between army and Pakistani Taliban in northwestern Khyber area, military says.

by
    Pakistan has been battling the Lashkar-e-Islam in the Khyber tribal area since October last year [EPA]
    Pakistan has been battling the Lashkar-e-Islam in the Khyber tribal area since October last year [EPA]

    Islamabad - At least 87 people have been killed and more than a 100 wounded in ongoing clashes between the Pakistani military and Taliban-allied fighters in the country's northwestern Khyber tribal area, the military said.

    The fighting, involving both ground troops and aerial bombardment, began on Saturday and was ongoing in the Sipah area of the Tirah Valley, a military spokesperson told Al Jazeera on Sunday.

    The military said that it has killed at least 80 people, all designated "terrorists", while seven soldiers were also killed.

    "[Operations] will continue with full force till total terrorist elimination from these areas," tweeted Maj-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the military's spokesperson, on Saturday evening.

    Pakistan has been battling the Lashkar-e-Islam in the Khyber tribal area, adjacent to Peshawar and part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), since October last year, when it expanded anti-Taliban operations into the area.

    Operations have particularly focused on the Tirah Valley, where Sunday's fighting was also taking place.

    On March 12, the Lashkar-e-Islam, led by local commander Mangal Bagh, formally entered into an alliance with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella organisation of anti-State religious extremist groups that have been fighting against Pakistan since 2007.

    So far, operations in the Khyber tribal area have resulted in the deaths of at least 419 people, all designated "terrorists", as well as at least 17 soldiers, the military said.

    Pakistan launched military operations against the TTP in June last year, with Operation Zarb-e-Azb taking on the TTP in its heartland of North Waziristan.

    Since then, it said it has killed at least 1,883 "terrorists", while losing the lives of more than 120 soldiers.

    Al Jazeera could not independently verify the figures provided by the military, as access to the conflict areas was severely restricted.

    The fighting has also seen the displacement of more than a million people from both North Waziristan and Khyber.

    On Friday, the government began a process of assisted repatriation for those who had fled parts of the Khyber tribal area that were not in the active conflict zone.

    Follow Asad Hashim on Twitter: @AsadHashim

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.