A total of 21 people died in Pakistan on Thursday when government backed militia took on pro-Taliban Lashkar-e-Islam insurgents. The dead includes 17 pro-Taliban fighters, one government soldier and three members of the pro-government militia. Two soldiers and four militia members were injured in the battle. The clash, which started on Thursday evening, continued on to the next day.
The army offensive took place in the Spindand region, a part of the Khyber Agency, which is one of the constituents of the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) province. FATA consists of seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions. All these districts are affected by pro-Taliban insurgency and it is estimated that thousands of local as well as foreign Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives have found refuge here.
The Spindand region, which borders Afghanistan has witnessed a number of clashes between pro-Government and pro-Taliban militias in the past also. In October, 2011, tens of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes in Khyber as the security situation worsened. Mutahir Zeb Khan, a local official with the Agency confirmed that the offensive was aimed at the Lashkar-e-Islam insurgents.
Close to 5,000 civilians and members of the defense forces have been killed by pro-Taliban militants ever since the renewed insurgency began in 2007 July, triggered by the raid of Lal Masjid mosque in Islamabad by the government forces.