(Reuters) – Pakistan’s army extended its offensive against Islamist militants in mountains along the Afghan border on Friday, killing at least nine insurgents, military officials said.
The army launched the offensive in the region known as the Khyber agency this week targeting Islamists holed up in remote mountain hideouts on the border.
The offensive, code-named “Khyber One”, comes against the backdrop of a broader military operation in the lawless North Waziristan region south of Khyber, where the Pakistani army has been battling to contain the insurgency since June.
A military source said some insurgents were believed to have slipped away and escaped towards the Afghan border.
“We are chasing them and our forces advanced and took control of the areas which remained in the control of the terrorists for the past many years,” said the security official.
This week’s fighting concentrated around the remote in Khyber, where militants and their al Qaeda backers from across the mountainous area have been holed up since the start of the operation in North Waziristan.
On Thursday, fighter jets pounded suspected hideouts in the valley, killing at least 21 insurgents.
Pakistan has been plagued by Islamist violence since it threw its support behind the U.S.-led campaign against militancy launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.