Clashes between banned militant outfits Ansarul Islam (AI) and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) continued for the fifth consecutive day in the troubled Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency on Monday.
Locals said TTP militants allowed Khujal Khel tribesmen to bury the bodies of those killed during the fighting which include AI chief Samar Gul and his nephew.
AI spokesperson Sadat Afridi said they have secured the Haidar Kandao check post after overpowering TTP in Bar Qamber Khel area, while TTP has regained control in Bhutan Sharif, Ziarat Sar and Machapura areas. Afridi claimed they blocked the movement of TTP militants in Fateh Ziarat area and killed four TTP fighters while eight AI fighters were also killed during the offensive.
Hundreds of Lashkar-e-Islam fighters along with TTP militants attacked the outskirts of Malikdin Khel in the valley. Afridi said heavy gunfight also continued in Parail Sanghar, Dakhay, Difa, Angoray and Nandokhay areas, adding that AI fighters are facing tough resistance from TTP and LI.
Tirah Valley has been under the control of militants of all hues – including TTP, AI and LI – who have been engaged in a deadly turf war. The valley borders the tribal regions of Orakzai and Kurram and serves as a transit for militants moving in the tribal belt. As a result, residents of the valley have little contact with the outside world.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2013.