Over a dozen militants were reportedly killed on Sunday as clashes between banned outfits Ansarul Islam (AI) and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the Tirah Valley continued for a third consecutive day.
Talking to The Express Tribune, AI spokesman Sadat Afridi claimed the outfit had wrested control of 23 of its outposts which had been captured by TTP. He added that AI fighters had also managed to capture TTP outposts in Khyber Sangar and Kismat Sangar, killing around a dozen TTP fighters and losing two of their own in the process. Afridi claimed his group had destroyed several other TTP outposts as well.
There was no statement from the TTP confirming or denying AI’s claims till the filing of this report.
Meanwhile, political administration official Javaid Afridi, while confirming reports of clashes in the Maidan, Dwatoi and Bagh areas, maintained that the exact number of casualties could not be confirmed due to a lack of communication.
Since the clashes broke out on Friday evening, reportedly around 23 AI and 44 TTP fighters have been killed. AI has also gunned down seven captured TTP fighters in public as well. AI spokesman Afridi said the group’s chief had issued orders to capture TTP fighters and punish them in public to convey a message to anyone ‘who dares attack AI in future’.
Tirah Valley, a scenic region in Khyber Agency, borders the tribal regions of Orakzai and Kurram and serves as a transit for militants moving in the tribal belt. It has been under the control of several militant factions, including TTP, AI and the Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-e-Islam. The factions have been engaged in a deadly turf war that has claimed hundreds of lives, including those of civilians.
In the latest upsurge of violence, TTP and LI have seemingly formed a joint front against AI.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2013.