Heavy fighting between warring militant factions continued unabated on the fourth day when fighters from the Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-e-Islam (LEI) joined the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) offensive by attacking Ansarul Islam-supported Qamarkhel peace committee volunteers, in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency on Monday.
The latest fighting, between LEI and Qamarkhel peace committee volunteers took place in Takhtakay, where seven LI militants and three peace committee fighters were reported to have been killed.
Confirming the continued clashes between Ansarul Islam and TTP fighters, an official of the Khyber Agency political administration said that both sides continued exchange heavy gunfire throughout the day. He added that the exact number of casualties from each side could not be ascertained as the area was remote.
Talking to the media, spokesperson of the banned Ansarul Islam, Sadat Afridi, claimed that 80 militants from the TTP had been killed in the past four days. He added that three Ansarul Islam fighters were also killed during the LEI attack.
Afridi claimed that Ansarul Islam had regained all lost territory, including Mamozai, while fighting was still underway to recapture Kismat Sangar from TTP militants. Meanwhile, talking to The Express Tribune, the TTP spokesman in Darra Adam Khel and Khyber Agency denied the group’s involvement in the clashes.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2013.