ISLAMABAD Security forces, despite stiff resistance, have gained a foothold by partly securing Kotkai, hometown of Pakistani Taliban Chief Hakimullah Mehsud and his deputy Qari Hussain. According to an ISPR release issued here on Wednesday, more than 15 terrorists have been killed while three security personnel including an officer were martyred and seven others got injured during the last 24 hours in operation Rah-e-Nejat that was progressing on different axes in South Waziristan Agency. It said on Jandola-Sararoga axis, the security forces were engaged in an intense fighting with terrorists hiding on heights surrounding Kotkai. After securing Tor Ghundai feature east of Kotkai, security forces are in the process of clearing surrounding heights and caves. During exchange of fire, one officer and one soldier embraced martyrdom while four others were injured. Similarly, after securing Malik Shahi, security forces are undertaking clearance operation up to Mizo-Wam. Seven terrorists were killed during the operation. A security check post has been established at Manzai Kili west of Mandanna, while efforts were underway to strengthen positions of security forces around Spinkai area. On Shakai-Ladah axis, the ISPR release said that security forces had made good progress and cleared Khaisura village linking up with Tiarza Fort. During the operation, eight terrorists were killed. Heavily fortified bunkers having two meters thick concrete walls have also been discovered in the aforementioned village. Many houses of this village were converted into bunkers. At present security forces are conducting search and clearance operation in Sherwangi and surrounding areas along with consolidating their positions in Wuzi Sar and Gurgura Sar. During exchange of fire, one soldier was martyred and three were injured. During search of Uzbeks houses around Sher Wangi, 105 bottles of Liquor were discovered. The security forces recovered 27 hand grenades, four rockets, two ammunition carrying bags, 7x12.7mm anti-aircraft guns, 2x14.5mm anti-aircraft guns along with 2007 mortar rounds, 2x rifles-7mm, 4xrifles-303 7xRPG-7, 36x82mm mortar rounds, 1x75mm RR, 14x107mm single barrel rocket launcher, 18x60mm mortar rounds and 22 improvised explosive devices. Agencies add: Helicopter gunships attacked Taliban bases in South Waziristan. There have been heavy clashes on the heights overlooking Kotkai, but troops have yet to storm the village. Warplanes, attack helicopters and long-range artillery have pounded Taliban strongholds Kotkai, Ladha and Makin but the ground advance has been slow, senior military and security officials in northwest admitted to AFP. Regarding operation Rah-e-Rast in Malakand division, after receiving an intercept regarding a suicide mission, security forces raided a house at Tiligram and killed the potential suicide bomber when he was getting ready for the suicide mission. Two terrorists voluntarily surrendered to security forces at Tiligram, Tutan Banda. Security forces conducted search operation at Shalpin near Khawazakhela and apprehended 10 suspects. Security forces conducted search operation at Dabsar near Martung and apprehended 1 terrorist (relative of commander Nazar). The offensive may take more time than estimated. The area - rough and difficult, mountain terrain is one of the reasons. Troops are advancing slowly, with a strategy and consolidating its positions, said the official. Another military official offered the same prognosis. Troops have advanced some 10 kilometres in enemy territory from various directions but going up hills and clearing the routes will take time, he told AFP on condition of anonymity. It may take more time than estimated. We are moving very cautiously, he added. Military commanders said when the offensive was launched Saturday that the operation would last about six to eight weeks before winter set in. Some of the heaviest clashes were around the village of Khaisura where eight militants were killed, according to an army statement. Many houses of this village were converted into bunkers. Heavily fortified bunkers having two metres thick concrete walls have been discovered, it said.