The ongoing fighting between Ansarul Islam (AI) and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that started in late January has claimed hundreds of lives in the scenic Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency and triggered a fresh exodus of local tribesmen.
According to an unofficial tally, 135 TTP and 35 AI militants were killed in the fresh spate hostilities that started on Wednesday.
Both banned outfits are trying to gain control of the strategic areas of the valley, according to reports.
Around 50 TTP militants attacked the Narhao area of Bar Qamber Khel on Wednesday and torched 15 houses of AI supporters. Around 18 militants from both the sides were killed in the clash.
Similarly, 30 militants were reportedly killed on Thursday when TTP after attacking the AI in the Narhao area advanced towards Maidan Bagh, torching more houses and shops.
The residents of Suleman Khel, Wali Khel, Tarki Khel, Darbi Khel and Qayyum Khel areas have reportedly shifted their women and children to safer areas and returned to fight the Taliban.
On Thursday, Khujal Khel tribal elders raised a white flag and told the AI and TTP to cease fire so that the dead could be buried. The TTP turned down the plea demanding opening of their supply route to Orakzai Agency blocked by AI and security forces.
While the Taliban refused to cease fire, nine bodies of TTP men were found lying in the Maidan Bagh area of the valley.
Peshawar High Court (PHC) Bar Association President Abdul Latif Afridi told a news conference at Peshawar Press Club that Khyber Agency is going to be the next war zone against al Qaeda fighters, if the security forces did not take timely action in the region.
Afridi, who hails from Khyber Agency, said the insurgents have in their ranks Chechens, Uzbeks, Tajiks and Arabs and the AI is engaged in resistance against them in the areas including Bar Qambar Khel.
An unexpected guest
The PPC hosted an unexpected guest speaker on Saturday. A notice was posted on the PPC’s notice board saying Amir Abdur Rahman of the JUI-F was going to address a news conference. However, the person coming in the guise of a JUI-F leader from Khyber Agency introduced himself as AI spokesperson Sadat Afridi.
Flanked by AI Commander Abdu Darda and Muhammad Shafiq, the AI spokesperson said if Bara and Jamrud areas adjacent to Peshawar were handed over to them, they would ensure peace in these localities.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2013.
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