PESHAWAR (AFP) At least 12 militants were killed in a clash with troops in Orakzai district Tuesday, officials said. The fighting broke out during a search operation in Orakzai, where troops have been battling the Taliban since March, security officials said. A paramilitary spokesman told AFP that about 50 militants attacked troops during search and clearance operation in the districts Dabori area. At least 12 militants were killed and eight terrorist hideouts were also destroyed. There was no loss of security forces, the spokesman said. He said helicopter gunships were also called in during the firefight. Pakistani forces launched the Orakzai offensive on March 24 in a bid to flush out Taliban who escaped last years major assault on South Waziristan, where the TTP leadership had its headquarters. The TTP, blamed for a bombing campaign that has killed 3,300 people across Pakistan over the past three years, grabbed the global spotlight after the US blamed it for the failed May 1 car bomb plot in New York. Washington says Pakistans tribal belt is a stronghold for Al-Qaeda and militants plotting attacks on US-led troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.