PESHAWAR - Up to eight soldiers and over a dozen militants were reportedly killed in clash on Wednesday when Taliban stormed a checkpost in Badar area of South Waziristan Agency (SWA).

Dozens of militants armed with rockets and grenades stormed the checkpost in Surang Baba Ziarat village, around 30 kilometres north of Wana, the main SWA, a senior security official in Peshawar said. The attack came during an operation against militant hideouts which netted a huge cache of arms and ammunition, he said.

Eight soldiers were killed and six injured in the attack, the official said, while 18 militants died during three hours of fighting. A second security official confirmed the military death toll.

Tehreek-e-Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed that their militants had killed more than a dozen soldiers and only one militant had died, though the group often exaggerates military casualties. The area is cut off to journalists and aid workers and it was not possible to confirm the death toll independently.

The attack took place in the most beautiful and green Badar valley of South Waziristan previously inhabited by the Mehsud tribe; but after the military operation against the TTP, Mehsud families fled the area and are still living in makeshift camps or in rented houses in neighboring settled districts.

The government has started repatriating registered internally displaced Mehsuds to some areas of the Agency but such attacks on soldiers could mar the repatriation process as it shows that the militants are still active there.

In a major blow to the TTP, a key commander of the militant group, Tariq Afridi, was shot dead by his brother-in-law in Khyber Agency on Tuesday. Reports about Tariq’s murder surfaced on Wednesday.

Sources said that Tariq was riding a horse when his brother-in-law opened fire at him, killing him on the spot. The TTP commander was involved in the kidnapping of late Polish engineer and in several other incidents of kidnapping for ransom. Reportedly, Tariq Afridi had also been associated with banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.