KHYBER AGENCY– Security forces, backed by gunship helicopters and fighter jets, Saturday pounded militants’ hideouts in Khyber Agency killing at least 39 terrorists and injuring 15 others while four troops including an officer also embraced martyrdom, officials said.

Four hideouts of militants were destroyed in the operation. Sources said security forces targeted several hideouts in Bara, Mamozai and Khadezi areas which resulted in killing of 39 militants and injuring seven others. Seven troops also suffered bullet wounds. The aerial strike started at 8:00 am in the morning and continued till late Saturday night.

In another incident, militants attacked convoy of security forces and targeted an armoured personnel career, however, security forces repulsed the attack and 10 militants were killed in exchange of fire as the forces retaliated.

Meanwhile, spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Orakzai Agency chapter informed Orakzai media forum that not a single militant was killed in these attacks. Instead, he added, TTP fighters inflicted heavy losses to security forces and 10 security personnel were killed in these attacks.

He said that security forces had killed innocent people including Bahadar and Abdur Rahim in Mamozai Bazar area.

The injured troops were shifted to military hospital for medical treatment, sources said.

Agencies add: The fighting took place as troops carried out a search operation around the town of Bara in Khyber tribal district.

Four civilians also died when a mortar shell hit a house, a government official said.

“Four civilians were killed in the day-long gunfight when a mortar shell hit their house,” Khyber’s deputy administration chief Syed Ahmed Jan said. It was not immediately clear who fired the mortar shell, he said.

A senior paramilitary official said the militants belonged to the Taliban-linked Laskhar-e-Islam group that is led by warlord Mangal Bagh.

Independent verification of the incident is not possible as access to the area is restricted by the military.

Some 18,000 people fled their homes in Khyber in October last year amid fears of a fresh outbreak of fighting between the army and militants linked to the Taliban.

Militants have killed more than 4,800 people across Pakistan since government troops raided an extremist mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.