Originally published on GroundReport.com, the citizen journalism platform that covers world news from the ground.
By Alam Zeb
Days after a visit by US General David Patraeus, Pakistan security forces are claiming they have killed local Taliban commander Omer Khalid.
Khalid was allegedly killed Wednesday evening, in a clash that also killed eight other militants in the Lakarho Tehsil Qandharo area of Mohmand Agency, the area adjacent to Afghanistan and Bajaur Agency. Fifteen militants were also reportedly killed in Tehsil Pandalai. A military source informed that this was a major breakthrough for security forces after a heavy, two-week assault against radical militants.
A Taliban spokesman in Mohmand Agency, Ikram, denied the killing of Omer Khalid and said that Khalid had moved to safe area as part of their strategy. However, military sources are adamant about their claim.
The operation was launched with light and heavy machine gunfirs and was a continuation of yesterday's operation, in which 60 militants were killed.
Local sources say that security forces celebrated Omer Khalid's death with aerial firing and shahdhola, a traditional tribal dance.
Omer Khalid was a close aide of Taliban mastermind Baitulla Mehsood, and was considered to 'No. 3' in the Taliban hierarchy.
Security forces have launched fresh operations in Mohmand Agencythat became more severe this week as this was a third major assault killed thirteen militants last Wednesday and 60 others yesterday.
The death of Omer Khalid would be considered a major loss to Tehreke Taliban as he was a leading figure and engaged in managing the activities of the Taliban in Mohmand Agency for the last two years.
Today's operation against the militants was launched after visit of General David Petraeus, US Commander for Southwest Asia to Pakistan, and before arrival of NATO chief Jaap De Shap Hooper to Pakistan.