RAWALPINDI (Web Desk) – At least five militants were killed in an exchange of fire with security forces in restive North Waziristan’s Datakhel area, said a statement released by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Friday.

The clash, in which a security official was also martyred, occurred when security forces were carrying out a search operation to hunt down the terrorists but were attacked upon by a group of militants.

Since the conflict zone is off-limits to journalists, there was no way to independently verify the number and identity of those killed.

According to ISPR, the martyred major Zahid Iqbal, a resident of Mansehra, was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in 1999. He leaves behind two sons.

The semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border have, for years, been a hideout for militants of all stripes, including al-Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan as well as foreign fighters, such as Uzbeks and Uighurs.

Pakistan began a long-awaited push to clear insurgent bases from North Waziristan and other restive tribal areas last June after a bloody Taliban attack on Karachi airport finally sank faltering peace talks.