PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Twenty-three Pakistani soldiers and 110 militants have been killed in fierce fighting in a strategic area of northwest Pakistan, a military official said on Tuesday.
The army, backed by fighter planes and helicopter gunships, launched an operation against the Taliban and its allies in the remote Tirah Valley four days ago and fighting was still raging on Tuesday.
“In four days of fighting, 110 militants and 23 Pakistan army soldiers have been killed and dozens of militants injured,” a senior military official told Reuters.
Pakistan’s military, one of the biggest in the world, has failed to break the back of the Taliban, despite a series of offensives against their strongholds in the northwest.
The Taliban, which is close to al Qaeda and is blamed for many of the suicide bombings across Pakistan, is fighting to toppled the U.S.-backed government.
“The valley has not been cleared of the militants yet even though jet fighters and helicopter gunships pounded their positions,” the military official said.
He said the militants could easily sneak into other semi-autonomous tribal regions near the Afghan border, a strategy they oftehjn often deployed when the pressure is on.
The army and the Taliban, backed by Lashkar-e-Islam, have been fighting for control of heights above Tirah Valley, which is located in Khyber tribal region.
Reporting by Jibran Ahmad; Editing by Michael Roddy