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March 3, 2012

10 soldiers, 23 militants killed in Khyber clash

March 3, 2012

BARA: At least 23 militants and 10 soldiers were killed in clashes between security forces and the outlawed militant group, Lashkar-e-Islam (LI), in the Baazgarah area of lower Tirah Valley, Khyber Agency, late Thursday night, official and local sources said.
“A nephew of LI chief Mangal Bagh is also among the dead,” the sources said, adding that clashes erupted when dozens of militants armed with heavy weapons attacked the outposts of security forces at the Salio Sar mountain peak from the west side. The ensuing clash lasted five hours till Friday morning.
Official sources said 10 soldiers were killed and three more injured after they bravely faced the assault. Officials claimed security forces repulsed the attack and killed 23 militants. Following the clash, they added that the overall situation and all security posts were in control of the forces.
However, a commander of the LI disputed the official claims and said only two militants were killed in the clash and two others were injured. Wishing not to be named, he admitted that the slain militants included the nephew of Mangal Bagh called Abdur Rehman and Naveed from the Malikdinkhel Afridi tribe. “We have occupied security forces’ outposts and seized a huge cache of small and heavy arms, including 21 G-3 rifles and dozens of rocket shells,” he claimed.
On Friday morning, three Pakistan Army helicopters landed at Salio Sar and shifted the dead and injured soldiers to Peshawar. Almost two weeks ago, security forces, with the help of gunship helicopters and jet fighters, had cleared the Salio Sar and Maira Sar hilltops from the militants and established their outposts there to check their movement between the Bara plains and Tirah Valley.
Sources said Salio Sar provided the main route to the militants to move between Bara and their stronghold Tirah Valley. They said since the blockade of the route at Salio Sar, incidents of violence had decreased to a great extent in Bara. The militant

commander said: “We will continue our attacks on the outposts in Salio Sar till security forces abandon their positions in the area.”

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