Islamabad: Pakistani security forces have killed 18 Taliban militants, including two top commanders, during an operation in the restive Bajaur tribal region bordering Afghanistan, the military said on Thursday.

"During an ongoing military operation in Batwar area of Bajaur Agency, 18 militants, including two operational commanders Khatir and Turabi of Tehrik-e-Taliban from Swat area, have been killed today," a military official said.

Clashes between security forces and the Taliban erupted in Batwar region of Bajaur Agency almost a week ago.

The fighting started after Pakistani militants based in Afghanistan attacked border posts and villages.

The attack triggered a response by security forces and a pro-government tribal militia.

Reports from the region said nearly 60 militants have been killed over the past six days.

Six soldiers and several tribal volunteers have also died in the fighting.

The Taliban have disputed the military’s claim, saying they killed around 30 soldiers and lost only a few fighters.

A statement from the Taliban claimed that the militants killed 14 security personals and injured scores more at midnight on Wednesday.

Two vehicles were also destroyed, Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said in the statement.

Ihsan claimed the Taliban had taken complete control of Salarzai area and were advancing towards central districts of Bajaur Agency.

The Taliban's claims could not be independently confirmed.

Local residents said hundreds of families had left their homes after clashes began between the Taliban and security forces.

Minister for States and Frontier Regions Shaukatullah Khan said that food items and basic facilities should be provided on priority to the displaced people of Bajaur Agency.

Khan instructed authorities, especially the disaster management authority for the tribal areas, to take steps to provide all possible help and relief to the displaced people.


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