PESHAWAR/KHYBER AGENCY - Security forces on Wednesday killed 15 suspected militants when they pounded their hideouts in Datta Khel area of North Waziristan Agency on Wednesday.

Military sources said at least 15 suspected terrorists, including two key commanders belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were killed in precision airstrikes carried out by the military. An intelligence official said the planes bombed a meeting place for insurgents in Datta Khel village, and said the dead included six Arabs and seven Uzbeks.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), ammunition depots were also destroyed during the airstrikes. However, these claims could not be confirmed independently by the local sources as journalists have no access to the area.

Separately, eight militants were killed as troops clashed with terrorists in the bordering area of Khyber and Orakzai agencies, official sources said Wednesday.

The forces in advance movements under Operation Khyber One in Bara tehsil of Khyber confronted with the militants and inflicted heavy losses on them, sources added. Eight bodies of the militants were shifted to Levies Center Jamrud for identification, confirmed administration sources.

Some other reports quoting official sources said that bullet-riddled bodies of eight suspected militants were found in Khyber tribal district where the military is battling insurgent groups. Troops recovered the eight corpses late Tuesday after they were spotted by local residents in the Khyber Agency, where Taliban and Lashkar-e-Islam fighters are based.

Five bodies were recovered from one place and three from another, said a senior government official in Khyber on condition of anonymity. A second official in Khyber confirmed the recovery.

The army launched a fresh offensive in Khyber Agency this year against militant group Lashkar-e-Islam, led by warlord Mangal Bagh who has joined hands with the homegrown Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Neither the military nor rival militants claimed the killings. Retired brigadier Mahmood Shah, a former security chief for the tribal areas, told AFP the deaths could also be a result of infighting among militant groups.

Meanwhile, two militants of Barabased Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) outfit were killed while eight fighters of pro-government peace militia Tauheed-ul-Islam (TI) sustained injuries in fresh fighting erupted between the two warring groups here in Nari Baba, the remote area of Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency, official and local sources said on Wednesday. It is important to note that both LI and TI groups are fighting with each other since long to get hold of Tirah Valley.

Separately, toll rose to four as another infant lost her life due to measles in Pasade Khel, a far-flung and bordering area of tehsil Landikotal of Khyber Agency, local and hospital sources said on Wednesday. The sources said eight-month-old Umra died of measles after brief illness.

Pakistani jets and artillery began targeting rebel strongholds in North Waziristan in mid-June and ground forces moved in on June 30.

The army says it has killed more than 1,100 militants and lost more than 100 soldiers since then.

An AFP tally based on regular updates from the military puts the militant death toll at more than 1,500, with 125 soldiers killed.

However, the North Waziristan Agency has not been cleared completely making it difficult for internally-displaced families to return to their native places.

People migrating from NWA due to military operation are languishing at different camps and houses in downtown of Bannu and DI Khan.

The affected families of the area have held several jirgas for their peaceful repatriation to the areas which have been cleared but the process has not been initiated so far as the army is still engaged in targeted action in North Waziristan Agency.