Official: Troops kill 38 militants in NW Pakistan

PARACHINAR, Pakistan (AP) — Security forces killed 38 militants in two separate operations Sunday in an area near the Afghan border where the army recently launched an offensive targeting the Pakistani Taliban, a local official said.

The offensive in the Orakzai tribal area is the latest push by the Pakistani army to rout the Islamist extremists. Many Taliban fighters fled to the rugged, mountainous region last year after a separate operation in nearby South Waziristan, which had served as the group's main base.

Militants attacked an army checkpoint in Sayd Khalil Baba village Sunday morning, but troops backed by artillery fire repulsed the assault and killed 26 insurgents, said Samiullah Khan, a senior government administrator in the Orakzai region.

Also Sunday, soldiers invaded militant hide-outs in another area of Orakzai, killing 12 Taliban fighters, said Khan.

It is impossible to independently verify the government's claims because the area is off-limits to journalists. Taliban fighters in the area are not available for comment.

Pakistani forces began their operation in Orakzai in mid-March, and more than 250 militants have been killed, Khan said.

Thousands of civilians have moved to a government camp in nearby Kohat district or moved in with relatives in neighboring regions to escape the fighting.