Army decimates four Jamaatul Ahrar camps

Targeted camps were located in areas opposite Mohmand and Khyber agencies

Our Correspondents February 18, 2017
Targeted camps were located in areas opposite Mohmand and Khyber agencies. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR/ LANDIKOTAL: The military has targeted camps and training compounds of the Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA) terrorist group on the Pak-Afghan border, sources said on Friday hours after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “authorised the security forces to eliminate terrorists wherever they are.”

The JuA terrorist camps — including the one run by the group’s deputy chief Adil Bacha — were targeted on the Pak-Afghan border opposite Mohmand and Khyber tribal regions, sources said. “One training compound and four other terrorist camps were decimated.”

According to sources, there were reports of casualties but the exact number of those killed or their identities were not immediately known. The outlawed group has set up ‘safe havens’ across the border in Afghanistan which they use as a springboard for launching terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

The action against the JuA came after a week of deadly attacks by terrorists left dozens of people dead and injured in different cities of Pakistan, prompting a pledge of ‘revenge — immediate revenge’ from the army chief.

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The JuA has been behind the recent uptick in terrorist violence in Pakistan. As recently as last week, the terrorist group claimed credit for a deadly suicide attack outside the Punjab Assembly in Lahore in which 16 people were killed and many more injured.

Earlier Friday morning, Pakistani forces repulsed a militant attack on a border post with Afghanistan in the Loway Shalman area of Khyber Agency. As many as 17 attackers were killed, while two paramilitary troops manning the border post were wounded, according to security sources.

The assault came a day after Pakistan closed down the main Torkham border crossing with Afghanistan. The Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s media wing, confirmed the attack on the post, saying it was ‘effectively responded’ and the terrorists suffered casualties.

Security sources, however, say six terrorists were killed on the Pakistani side and 11 on the Afghan side of the Durand Line. “The hideouts of terrorists were neutralised with mortar shelling,” one source added. “These hideouts were used by terrorists as launching pads for attacks on Pakistani border posts.”

Evacuation notice

Meanwhile, the political administration in Khyber issued notices to more than 100 households near the Pak-Afghan border to evacuate in anticipation of a possible security operation and due to fluid security situation there.

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The evacuation has been ordered from the Samsai area, the political administration said, adding that a military operation was under way in the villages near the border with Afghanistan which has yielded several arrests.

Commenting on the closure of the border with Afghanistan, Assistant Political Agent Muhammad Anwar Khan Sherani said: “The Zero Point and the areas along Ghulam Khan border are closed until further orders from the interior ministry and security forces.” He added that the repatriation of displaced tribesmen from Afghanistan has also been suspended.

Security forces have stepped up patrolling in the areas along the border with Afghanistan, while security has been put on high alert in North and South Waziristan agencies.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2017.