PESHAWAR: At least 25 suspected militants have been arrested as security forces launched a huge search operation in the Khyber tribal region, officials said on Monday.
Paramilitary Frontier Corps said that the search operation, codenamed Khwakh Ba De Shama, was launched in Zawa, Akakhel, Torikhel and Beena areas of Khyber Agency where a curfew has been imposed. Residents said that it was the first time in the last six months that the road leading to the scenic Tirah Valley has been closed for traffic. Although most of the Bara sub-division was cleared of Taliban militants, their remnants continue to operate in the Akakhel area. Residents said that a mass migration is expected from the area in view of the fighting.
Meanwhile, security officials claimed that five suspected militant commanders were killed in two separate clashes with security forces in Swat district on Monday. Three commanders were killed in a security forces operation in Kanju Township, while the two others were killed in the Ghaligai Darra area. Security officials said that a suspected militant managed to escape in Kanju Township, after which security forces imposed a curfew in the area and started a search operation.
The fighting continued for around 23 hours and both sides used heavy artillery during the clash, which left the house in which the militants were hiding in ruins. There were no casualties on the security forces’ side. In clashes at Ghaligai Darra, security forces on a tipoff about militants’ movement from Alam Sar to Ghaligai, moved to the area, where suspected militants opened fire on the security forces. A security official also sustained injuries in the clash. Meanwhile in Bajaur, Taliban militants shot dead a pro-government tribal elder Maulana Abdul Haleem, officials said. His bullet-riddled body was dumped in the bazaar of Nawagi, a rural town some 30 kilometres northwest of Khar.
“There was a rope around the neck of Maulana Abdul Haleem and his body had several bullet wounds and signs of torture,” local administration official Irshad Khan said. Haleem had been kidnapped late Sunday with four other elders, Khan said. Two security officials confirmed the incident. The killing was the latest in a string of assassinations of tribal elders allied to the government.