PESHAWAR - At least nine persons were killed and several others injured on Thursday when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque of Bajuar Agency. The suicide blast ripped through the mosque when the worshippers were leaving the place after evening (Maghrib) prayers. It is reported that the blast took place in a mosque being run by an anti-militant tribal elder Haji Rehmatullah. Haji Rehmatullah was also killed in the blast. According to local resident, he was the main target of the suicide bomber. All the injured persons have been shifted to Headquarter Hospital. The casualties are feared to increase. Meanwhile, at least 24 militants including 11 foreigners were killed in exchange of fire between security forces and militants in Mamond and Nawagai tehsils of Bajaur Agency here on Thursday. In a statement issued here from the headquarters of Frontier Corps (NWFP) it was said that 24 militants including 11 foreign fighters, who were likely to be (Uzbaks) and a local commander were killed. They were killed during exchange of fire between the security forces and the militants in Dabaria, Saparai, Gatki, Bagori and Zorbandar areas of Mamond and Nawagai tehsils of Bajaur Agency. Meanwhile, the spokesman of ISPR has said that operation "Sher Dil" which was started on 6 September, after gaining success in various parts of Bajaur Agency including control of Loi Sam had now started advancing towards Nawagai. A press statement issued by ISPR said that miscreants' strongholds had been destroyed and they had been mauled adequately. However, some pockets of resistance were still to fight out. It is pertinent to mention here that Operation "Lion Heart" is being conducted by ISAF in area exclusively inside Afghanistan opposite to Bajaur Agency. The spokesman further reiterated that ISAF was not involved in any joint operation being conducted with Pakistani Security Forces operating in Bajaur Agency as part of the operation "Sher Dil". Pakistan's tribal belt became a safe haven for hundreds of extremists who fled Afghanistan after the US-led toppling of the hardline Taliban regime in late 2001 and have since set up training camps. The military says more than 1,500 rebels have been killed while hundreds more militants were captured since the military launched an operation in Bajaur district in August. Meanwhile, Two rockets fired by miscreants from undisclosed location landed at cantonment area in Bannu district, however no casualty was reported, a senior police officer said. DPO Bannu Muhammad Alam Shinwari told APP that two rockets believed to be fired from FR Bannu, hit the open ground in Bannu Chowni early Thursday and exploded. He said no casualty has been reported. The DPO said the security has been beefed up in Bannu after the deadly missile strike at Janikhel area. He said police in plain cloths have been deployed in sensitive areas to keep close vigil on the movement of suspected elements. He said checkposts around sensitive places have been set up to thwart any eventuality.