KHYBER/ORAKZAI – At least 63 militants and 10 soldiers were killed in a suicide attack and clashes between security forces and extremists in Khyber and Orakzai agencies on Friday.

At least 10 soldiers and 23 Laskar-e-Islam (LI) militants were killed in fresh skirmishes took place in Lakaro Baba, a far-flung area of Tirah Valley in Tehsil Bara of Khyber Agency, officials said on Friday.

Sources said in the wee hours of Friday, the Lashkar-e-Islam fighters attacked one of the army posts in the area and shot dead 10 troops. Eight security personnel were also injured in the clash. In retaliation, the forces claimed to have killed 23 LI militants including nephew of LI Ameer Mangal Bagh. However, independent sources confirmed casualties of three LI men in the clashes.

Separately, at least 23 Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) militants were killed and many others wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up among the LI supporters when they came out of a mosque after offering their Jumma Prayers at Nakai Said Noor Centre in Malikdin Khel of Tehsil Bara, officials and locals said. Sources said after Jumma Prayer as the people left a mosque located in an area controlled by warlord Mangal Bagh, the suicide bomber exploded himself at the main entrance. Resultantly, 23 LI armed persons were killed on the spot and 13 others received serious injuries.

However due to remote area, the casualties could not be confirmed from the LI sources. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Tariq Afridi group claimed the responsibility of the blast. Talking on phone to the local media persons from an undisclosed location, its spokesperson accepted the responsibility for the blast and said that LI’s main centre was their target. The casualties might rise as score of wounded were in precarious condition, locals said.

Meanwhile, at least 17 militants were killed and 13 others injured when security forces targeted suspected hideouts of militants in Akhun Kot area of the Upper Tehsil of Orakzi Agency on Friday.

According to political administration, security forces bombed the suspected hideouts in Akhunkot, Bilras and Chafar areas at 12:00 pm which killed 17 alleged militants and injuring 13 others. Sources added that two prominent militants were among the dead.

Spokesman Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan Hafiz Saeed said that during the security forces aerial raid not a single Taliban fighter was killed and they had targeted vacant houses in the area. He negated the tall claims of the political administration and security forces.

It merits mentioning here that last night security forces had claimed killing of 18 militants and injuring 13 others. However, Taliban did not confirm the casualties.

Political Administration in Orakzi Agency also arrested tribal leaders of Biland Khail Tribe under Collective Responsibility Act. An officer of the political administration Ali Anan Qamar told this correspondent that men were arrested for violation of the Collective Responsibility Act.

Separately in Tehsil Jamrud, two volunteers of Tawheed-ul-Islam were killed, when their vehicle hit a roadside planted explosive device on Friday in Dwa Toai area of Tehsil Jamrud, local sources said. Two others sustained injuries while the vehicle was completely destroyed, sources said.

Agencies add; “Dozens of militants attacked three recently established security checkpoints in Khyber Agency. That led to heavy fighting,” said a military official requesting anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

“At least 10 soldiers embraced martyrdom and three others were wounded,” a senior security official said. “At least 23 militants were killed in the fighting which lasted for nearly six hours,” he added.

“All law enforcement agencies’ posts in the area are intact and the situation is stable,” the official said.

“Militants from Lashkar-e-Islam group attacked our outpost and a gunfight erupted,” Khan said.

Military officials in Peshawar confirmed the attack and casualties.

In the Orakzai tribal region, fighter jets bombed two militant hideouts and killed over a dozen militants.