The Khyber Agency-based militant outfit Ansarul Islam (AI) claimed on Sunday that its arch-rival Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) chief Mangal Bagh has fled across the border into Afghanistan.
The claim was made at a news conference in the Peshawar Cantonment – just a stone’s throw from the offices of the Khyber Agency political administration.
AI senior commander Haji Akhundzada Kamarkhel and spokesperson Qari Mehboob Khan told reporters that Mangal Bagh and his associates have fled to Afghanistan in the face of growing public opposition, which resulted from the constant vigilantism and repression of LeI.
“Bagh has taken shelter with Amin Shah Shinwari – a local drug baron in the Nazyan Shinwari area of Nangarhar province in Afghanistan,” they said.
Kamarkhel alleged that Bagh was in contact with anti-Pakistan elements in Afghanistan and demanded Pakistani authorities to arrest Bagh and try him for treason.
He said the AI and its allied tribe Zakhakhel were ready to enter the Sepah clan area of Tirah, once stronghold of Mangal Bagh. He said that scores of people kidnapped from different parts of the province and tribal areas were languishing in LeI dungeons in Sepah and Akakhel areas and it was AI’s mission to “liberate them as well as other tribesmen from the yoke of LeI”.
“There will be no reprisals, but action will be taken against people who committed heinous crimes,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2011.