- 15 soldiers killed after fight with militants in a southern province
- Pakistani forces and militants regularly battle in northwest Pakistan
- There are Taliban strongholds in the region
Pakistani security forces killed a key Taliban commander and 20 other suspected militants in northwest Pakistan, two military officials told CNN Wednesday.
The military operation targeted militant hideouts and training facilities in the Shaikhan area of Orakzai Agency, one of seven semiautonomous tribal districts near the Afghan border, the officials said Wednesday.
Security forces destroyed the headquarters of Mullah Toofan and Pakistan Taliban Commander Moinud Din in attacks on four targets in Sheikhan and Samana Bazaar at midnight, a security official said.
The officials, who were not named because they are not allowed to speak to media on the subject, said Din was a senior Taliban leader in Orakzai Agency.
In addition, at least 15 Pakistani soldiers were killed and 14 others were wounded Tuesday when militants attacked security force check points in Pakistan's southwestern province Balochistan, a paramilitary force representative said.
Dozens of armed men attacked check points with heavy weapons in areas in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan province, said Murtaza Baig, the spokesman.
The soldiers were deployed in the mountains to guard rich coal reserves in the area, Baig said. The exchange of fire between the security forces and the militants lasted several hours in nearby mountains.
Separatists and other armed militants groups, who want more autonomy and shares in natural reserves for their province, have been targeting security forces personnel in recent years.