The military has taken over the control of more than 90 per cent of areas bordering Afghanistan in Mohmand Agency as the army’s operation named ‘Brekhna’ (lightning) entered a decisive phase, tribal administration officials said on Saturday.
As many as 12 militants, including a prominent local ‘commander’, were also reported killed.
The operation was launched a week ago in the semi-autonomous Baizai tehsil with the help of local peace committees and militias, especially the Atmarkhel lashkar.
The area was considered a militant stronghold in the tribal region and a vital location where cross-border infiltration had claimed the lives of a large number of security personnel.
“We have taken control of Torabara, Speenabara and Qabarnama areas,” said Assistant Political Agent of Upper Mohmand Maqsood Khan.
He said that strongest militant hideouts had been eliminated and the militants were now confined to pockets in the mountainous area, adding that their supply line had completely been cut off.
“They will be completely eliminated within a matter of days,” Maqsood Khan said.
A large number of landmines and explosive devices left behind by the retreating militants had been defused, he said, adding that the advancing forces were being helped by the lashkar.
A notorious local militant commander named Toofan Dawezai had been killed in the operation in Khugakhel and Bhai Daag areas last Sunday.
“Search and clearance operations are still continuing in the area,” he said.
Operation Brekhna was launched in Safi tehsil, considered to be the spiritual hub of the Mohmand Taliban. The operation entered its second phase when militant outposts were targeted in the Metai and Surandara areas.
When militants mounted an offensive, attacking a security check post at the Walidad Top, security forces retaliated and took over the area, killing 25 militants.
Baizai is a significant area because of its proximity to the Afghan province of Kunar. The route is often used by militants to cross into Pakistani areas.
Sources, however, say that the main problem is that militants have “well-established bases and training camps across the border (in Afghanistan), from where they move into Pakistani areas and carry out attacks and flee back”.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2011.