As many as 14 bullet-riddled and mutilated bodies of unidentified persons were found during search operation in Tehsil Bara of Khyber Agency, sources said on Sunday.

The sources said that all the victims were locals and kidnapped before being killed. The paramilitary troops have shifted the bodies.

An official in the region on condition of anonymity said that one body of a local tribal elder Malik Mehmood has been identified among the slain men, who belong to Sipah area of Bara District.

The official said that all were locals and had been kidnapped three days ago. He said there had also been sign of torture on bodies of those found in a remote area.

Official sources said that the security forces are conducting an operation against members of the Lashkar-e-Islam group in the area.

The group is accused of attacking the security forces and pro- government tribal elders in Khyber agency.

Hundreds of troops have been conducting the operation in the area for the fourth consecutive day.

They added that the forces were conducting search operation for the fourth consecutive day in which more than a dozen militants were killed.

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

Seven tribal districts near the Afghan border are rife with homegrown insurgents and are strongholds of Taliban and al Qaeda operatives.

Militants have killed more than 4,800 people across Pakistan since July 2007.