While the debate on the accuracy of figures detailing the number of militants and civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan continues, it is worth taking a look at the reported figures for militants killed in clashes with the Pakistani Army. After all, most of these figures originate with the same ISI officers who brief local journalists on drone casualty figures.
I have been perplexed for some time by the figures for militants killed in clashes with the Pakistani Army and Airforce. If accurate, then given the massive attrition these figures suggest, it is surprising that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan can still find anyone willing to fight for it. True, there are tensions within the TTP at present, with deputy emir Maulvi Faqir Mohammad from Bajaur being sacked from his job this week because he had been engaged in peace talks with the military. However, the number of deaths as reported in the Pakistani press beggar belief.
Newspaper reports for December 2011 indicate that at least 161 militants were killed by Pakistani forces in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). There were no drone strikes during this period. For January this year, the figures suggest at least 119 militants were killed and dozens more injured. Most of the reports suggest that numerous ‘hideouts’ were also destroyed. For February, the figures, excluding drone strikes, suggest at least 216 militants were killed. An army officer was quoted as saying that more than 700 militants have been killed and 500 sustained injuries in the ongoing military action in Orakzai Agency alone. The same source said 71 soldiers had been killed and 150 injured in the fighting.
Thus in the last three months - and accepting that these figures are not complete - a reported 496 militants, mostly members of the TTP or Lashkar-e-Islam, have been killed in military action in the FATA region of Pakistan. A similar number have been injured. Can this be possible? If so, it certainly confirms FATA as more of a battlefield than southern Afghanistan, for example, where reported deaths of militants are much lower. Either that, or the official figures are suspect. You decide.
For those of you who are interested, here are some of the reports that have appeared in the Pakistani press:
28 Feb: Security officials said on Monday they faced resistance from the militants during a raid on their hideouts in Seplatoi area of South Waziristan on Saturday that left four soldiers and 10 militants dead in the ensuing clash. A senior military official said the raid was conducted after reports about the presence of militants in the area inhabited by the Mahsud tribesmen. The militants resorted to firing at security forces in the village. “It led to a clash between the security forces and militants and the fighting continued for some time. (The News).
27 Feb: At least six extremists were killed as helicopter gunships attacked the banned Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) hideouts in Nari Baba area. According to sources, many bases of the LI were destroyed, and a large quantity of weapons was recovered in a search operation after the attack. Security forces and Tawheedul Islam volunteers also made progress on the ground destroying posts under LI’s control in order to clear the entire area of the terrorists. (Daily Times)
25 Feb: Three soldiers and 14 militants were killed in separate incidents in the Khyber Agency on Friday, official and tribal sources said. Three soldiers and seven militants were killed and five others injured in an exchange of fire and helicopter shelling in Nala area of Bara Tehsil. The sources said an exchange of fire started when the militants attacked a convoy of security forces carrying soldiers for duty in Nala area. (The News)
24 Feb: Jets bombed militant hideouts in tribal areas early on Thursday, killing 17 Taliban militants, officials said. The aircraft targeted hideouts in the Upper Orakzai area and destroyed four compounds in the rugged terrain near the Afghan border. (Dawn)
23 Feb: Pakistani jets bombed militant hideouts in a northwestern tribal area early Thursday, killing at least 15 Taliban insurgents, officials said. The jets targeted hideouts in the Upper Orakzai area and destroyed four compounds in the rugged terrain near the Afghan border. “Two war planes were sent to the area early this morning after reports from local intelligence sources that militants from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were hiding in the mountainous region,” a senior military officer said. (Dawn)
22 Feb: The security forces claimed to have regained control of strategic Tor Chappar area of Darra Adamkhel during a lengthy operation, launched against militants last month. The sector commander of Tor Chappar operation, Col Shahid, told journalists that 55 militants were killed and scores of suspects were arrested during the operation. However, some of them managed to escape to other areas. The operation was launched in the area on January 27. (Dawn)
18 Feb: HANGU: The security forces on Friday claimed killing 15 militants in an attack by jetfighters in Orakzai Agency. The official sources said that 15 militants were killed and 10 others were injured when the jetfighters targeted their positions in Alikhel, Tor Samat and Dabori areas in Orakzai Agency. The sources said that five hideouts of the militants were also destroyed in the attack. (The News)
According to sources, more than 700 militants have been killed and 500 sustained injuries in the ongoing military action in Orakzai Agency. They said 71 soldiers were killed and 150 injured in the fighting.
17 Feb: Sixteen persons were killed and four others sustained injuries in two separate missile attacks by the US drones in North Waziristan on Thursday. Tribal sources said a drone fired two missiles at a house in Spalga village located on the Miramshah-Razmak Road early in the day. The villagers said six people were killed and four others sustained injuries in the attack. Local tribesmen said the house caught fire and collapsed when it was hit by the unmanned aerial vehicle. (The News)
10 Feb: PESHAWAR: Security forces killed 11 militants and injured 19 others in Mamuzai area of Orakzai Agency, Geo News reported Friday. According to sources, security forces targeted militants’ hideout in Mamuzai area of Upper Orakzai and destroyed three compounds. 11 militants who were hiding in the compounds were also killed while 19 others got injured. (The News)
9 Feb: Ten people, suspected to be militants, were killed in a US drone attack on Torikot village near Spalga area of North Waziristan tribal region on Wednesday. Tribal sources said the drone fired two missiles at a house in Torikot in Spalga, 15 kilometres east of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan. Local tribesmen said the house was razed to the ground when hit by the missiles fired from the drone and those living there were buried under the debris. (FRC)
8 Feb: KALAYA: Security forces claimed to have killed 18 militants and injured 11 others in jetfighters’ shelling in various areas of Orakzai Agency on Tuesday, official sources said. The sources said security forces backed by jetfighters targeted the hideouts of militants in Torkamar, Akhun Kot, Adokhel, Jandri Killay in Mamozai and Chappar and Khadezai in the Alikhel areas of Orakzai Agency. Official sources said around 18 militants were killed and 11 others sustained injuries while seven of their hideouts were also destroyed in the shelling. The claim, however, could not be confirmed from independent sources. Security forces said a search operation was launched in Koroonchaki, Mulla Patai, Ghundi Killay and Narik. Forces recovered 38 rocket shells and a huge quantity of explosives from the insurgents’ positions. (Dawn)
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Orakzai Agency chapter, Hafiz Saeed, rejected official claims and said the jetfighters had targeted the abandoned houses of tribal people. (The News)
7 Feb: ORAKZAI: Security forces pounded militant hideouts with jet fighters, killing at least 15 and injuring eight militants in different areas of Upper Orakzai, Geo News reported. According to sources, security forces jet fighters destroyed four militant hideouts in Khadzai, Mamozai and Torsamant. (The News)
4 Feb: Three militants and a volunteer of the tribal lashkar were killed in fresh fighting between the outlawed Lashkar-e-Islam and the Zakhakhel tribe in Sherkhel area in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency on Friday, tribal sources said. The sources said that the Zakhakhel tribal lashkar continued its advance towards Sherkhel and Zor Killay amid tough resistance from the rival side. (The News). Two soldiers and two militants were killed while six others sustained injuries in separate clashes in Bara subdivision in Khyber Agency, official sources said Friday. (The News)
3 Feb: PESHAWAR: Six militants were killed in a battle with security forces in Upper Orakzai area while one troop was killed in Khyber Agency, Geo News reported Friday. According to sources, security forces pounded militants’ hideouts in Upper Orakzai that destroyed 2 compounds and killed six militants. (The News).
Also: The security forces claimed to have killed five militant commanders and cleared several areas from the insurgents in the ongoing military action in Jawakai and Darra Adamkhel in the Frontier Region (FR) Kohat. The official sources said on Thursday the security forces blitzed the militant hideouts in FR Darra Adamkhel and Jawakai and took control of their stronghold Tor Chappar area in Jawakai. The sources claimed that five militant commanders of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were killed in the fresh clashes in Tor Chappar area. (The News)
1 Feb: PESHAWAR: Pakistani warplanes pounded militants’ hideouts in the northwestern tribal area before dawn on Wednesday, killing at least 20 Taliban insurgents, security officials said. Other reports put the number of dead at 38. The jets targeted hideouts in the tribal Orakzai district and at least four compounds were hit, they said, in the latest surge of fighting between security forces and militants in the Afghan border areas. Local intelligence officials confirmed the air strikes killing at least 20 Taliban militants in the bombing. The hideouts belonged to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commanders Mulla Tufan and Commander Moheyuddin, a security official said. There are reports that Moheyuddin may have been killed in the bombing, he said. (The News)
Also: Thirty-five militants and eight Pakistan Army soldiers were killed in fierce fighting in the Jogi area near Mamozai, located between the Orakzai and Kurram tribal regions, on Tuesday. Military sources said 15 soldiers and several militants had sustained injuries in the fighting. They said the fighting started after around 100 militants, believed to be members of the Hakimullah Mahsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), attacked a newly-established security post at Jogi near the Mamozai area with heavy weapons. (The News)
Also: At least six militants were killed in a clash with security personnel on Tuesday, the third day of an operation in the Kohat Frontier Region. The security forces intruded for the first time into the Golono Tangi area in the semi-autonomous tribal area while chasing militants and a fierce gun battle took place between the two sides. (Dawn)
31 Jan: The bodies of two suspected militants were found in Qamberabad area of Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency on Monday, local sources said. The two slain persons, identified as Jalal and Umer, were reportedly arrested by the police for their alleged links with the banned Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) militant group from the Jalozai Camp the other day. (The News)
30 Jan: A soldier was killed in a landmine blast while six militants and a volunteer of the pro-government Amn Lashkar were killed in fresh clashes in the Jawakai area in the Frontier Region Kohat on Sunday, official sources said. Sources said security forces along with the volunteers of the Amn Lashkar launched an operation in the mountains of Jawakai and Taodo Oba. A group of militants, the sources said, opened fire on the forces and the lashkar, killing a volunteer, Wahidur Rehman. The forces also returned fire and killed six militants, sources added. (The News)
27 Jan: At least 20 militants were killed while 27 insurgents and 22 soldiers sustained injuries in fresh clashes in the Jogi area of central Kurram Agency Wednesday night, official sources said. Sources said clashes between security forces and militants continued over the occupation of the security post in the Jogi mountainous area in central Kurram Agency. (FRC)
26 Jan: Six soldiers and 20 militants were killed while two soldiers and 13 militants sustained injuries in fresh clashes in the Jogi area in central Kurram on Wednesday, official sources said. The sources said security forces and militants exchanged heavy gunfire as they tried to take hold of the security post in the mountainous area of Jogi. Six soldiers and 20 militants were killed while three soldiers and 13 militants sustained injuries in the gunbattle, sources added. (FRC)
25 Jan: Two soldiers and seven militants were killed in a clash in the Jogi area in Kurram Agency on Tuesday, official sources said. Sources said a group of militants attacked a security forces post in the mountainous Jogi area in the central part of Kurram Agency, leaving four soldiers injured. In retaliation, security forces targeted the hideouts of the militants from Sadda town with artillery and killed seven militants. This claim could not be confirmed by independent sources. (FRC)
19 Jan: At least three militants were killed when they clashed with volunteers of a peace committee in Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency on Wednesday 18th. (FRC)
13 Jan: PESHAWAR: At least 15 militants were killed and eight others injured as gunship helicopters heavily pounded militants’ positions in area near the Afghan border in upper Orakzai Agency, official sources said. The gunship choppers targeted militants in Kabo Kamar, Mamozai, Torsamat and Sama Bazzar, destroying five hideouts. (Dawn)
12 Jan: KALAYA: Eleven militants were killed and six others wounded when jetfighters of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) blitzed various hideouts in the militants-controlled Mamozai area in upper part of Orakzai Agency on Wednesday, official sources claimed. Sources said the jets bombed hideouts of the militants in the far-flung Jabba, Torsamat, Akhunkot and Mirqalamkhel to dismantle the sanctuaries of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in the area. There was no independent confirmation of official claims. (The News)
6 Jan: PESHAWAR: Security forces on Friday carried out an operation in different areas of upper Orakzai Agency, killing five suspected militants, DawnNews reported. According to sources, armed forces pounded militant safe-houses in Mamozai and Khadizai areas of upper Orakzai region, destroying at least two hideouts. (Dawn)
SADDA: Seven militants were killed and a soldier sustained injuries in a clash during a search operation in the Zemusht area of Kurram Agency on Thursday, official sources said. The sources said militants opened fire on security forces in Chinarak village in Zemusht area during the operation. A soldier Sikandar Ali was injured in the attack. Security forces returned fire and killed seven militants, sources added. The claim couldn’t be independently confirmed. (Dawn)
3 Jan: KARACHI: Nine militants were killed and four insurgent hideouts were destroyed in shelling by security forces in the Orakzai tribal region. Clashes between security forces and militants are ongoing in upper and central Orakzai. In upper Orakzai’s Mamozai area, four militants were killed and two insurgent hideouts were destroyed during heavy shelling by security forces. Moreover, in central Orakzai’s Ali Sherzai area, five militants were killed and two insurgent hideouts were destroyed by security forces’ shelling. (Dawn)
2 Jan: PESHAWAR: Eight suspected militants were shot dead as they clashed with security forces in the Orakzai agency area on Monday, DawnNews reported. According to security sources, armed rebels clashed with security forces in the Galju area of Orakzai agency, wounding a soldier. Security forces killed eight suspected militants in retaliatory action. (Dawn)
1 Jan: PESHAWAR: Security forces on Sunday destroyed several suspected militant hide-outs in different areas of Orakzai agency. According to government sources, at least 11 suspected militants were killed in the operation using fighter jets. At least six suspected militant hideouts were targetted in the areas of Mamozai, Jabba, Jandri and Torsamt in upper Orakzai agency, wounding an additional six militants. Security officials claim to have cleaned up to 90 per cent of the area in the operation. (Dawn)