Pakistani forces fought pitched battles with Taliban fighters in their bid to wrest their hub of Sararogha in South Waziristan killing 34 militants to raise the terrorist death toll to 227, but lost 11 soldiers as insurgents opened new fronts in the lawless region.

Six soldiers were killed in pitched battles as the troops advanced from Kotkai to capture Sararogha and Jandola but had to face heavy resistance from well entrenched Taliban militants at Ghalai village. With Monday’s heavy losses, the Army casualties climbed upto 30.

The troops were supported by attack helicopters and fighters as the heavy fighting in operation “Rah-i-Nijat” (Path of Salvation) entered the 10th day. In the fight to secure Ghalai, six soldiers and 10 Taliban militants were killed, said a military statesman.

Fourteen soldiers were also injured in the clashes, said the military. Seven militants were killed and five soldiers injured in fighting in and around Chalwastai village, from where the security forces are also advancing into Taliban-held territory.

After clearing the area around Chalwastai of terrorists, troops launched an operation to remove mines, IEDs and booby traps.

In a new surprise move Taliban fighters armed with assault rifles and rockets stormed two Army check-posts in the troubled Bajaur region killing four soldiers.

Iranian guards held

Meanwhile, Pakistani police arrested 11 Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers for illegally entering the country, amid tensions over a recent suicide attack that Tehran alleges was carried out by militants backed by Pakistani intelligence officials.

The 11 officers were taken into custody in Mashkel, close to the countries’ border in the southwestern province of Balochistan, said the police. He said officers were interrogating the men and had seized two vehicles.

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