Epicentre of militancy: Over two dozen militant groups operating in tribal areas, K-P

Report identifies various groups involved in attacks on security forces, civilians.

Riaz Ahmad June 09, 2014
A confidential report prepared by law enforcement agencies has identified at least 17 militant groups operating in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). PHOTO: AFP/FILE


As the country treads forward with stalled peace talks and intermittent high and low-profile attacks on the state and its populace, a comprehensive security policy is conspicuous in its absence and failure to help the situation on ground.

With the entire process marred by obfuscation, militant attacks continue and as has been the case in the past decade, Peshawar and its neighbouring settled and tribal areas bear the brunt.

A confidential report prepared by law enforcement agencies has identified at least 17 militant groups operating in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and the adjacent tribal areas that have openly challenged the writ of the state and are actively involved in attacks on security forces and civilian settlements.

Who’s who

The top four groups that operate against the state are al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the sectarian outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. These groups are considered the most committed and powerful ones and have openly been attacking state apparatus as well as civilian or ‘soft’ targets.

Next in the list are Ansarul Aseer, Lashkar-e-Khurasan, Ansarul Mujahideen, Jandullah and the Ghazi Force. The report categorises these outfits as ‘splinter groups’.

Seven other militant groups have been identified but are said to have an ‘outward’ look and known to be active in Kashmir or Afghanistan, however, some are said to have carried out attacks on security forces as well. These are Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Tehreek-e-Ghalba-e-Islam, Jaishul Adal, Shia militant outfit Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan or Mehdi Force in Kurram Agency, Hafiz Gul Bahadar group and the Haqqani network.

Closer to home

A major militant group operating on the outskirts of Peshawar in Khyber Agency is Lashkar-e-Islam (LI), which started its activities as a pro-government outfit but a clash of interest soon led to attacks against security forces and police. The group has close ties with TTP as well. “LI is probably the largest group in Khyber Agency and was previously believed to have a strength of at least 2,000 men. But that number has reduced considerably after military operations and desertions,” said a police official while talking to The Express Tribune.

Furthermore, in Peshawar, TTP Adezai chapter and LI have been identified as the biggest troublemakers in addition to the Bilal group affiliated with TTP’s Mohmand chapter.

“There is a TTP Mardan chapter as well which is affiliated with its counterparts in Khyber Agency,” informed the official.

On the outskirts of Peshawar, the Suleman Khel/Adezai group comprises around three dozen men and operates in Mattani, Badhaber as well as Akka Khel area of Khyber Agency. It carries out attacks inside the city, reveals the report, which also discloses the presence of at least 45 LI activists in Badhaber alone.

“The Suleman Khel group is operating under the command of Shahid, a local resident, while the overall commander in Peshawar is Jangrez Khan,” informed the official. Aurangzeb alias Omar, a resident of Adezai, was now the head of TTP’s Dara Adam Khel faction after the death of Tariq Mazeed Khel, one of the group’s four founding members, he added.

The Ministry of Interior last year sent a letter to the province pointing out in depth the involvement of TTP offshoots in extortion and kidnappings for ransom, said the official.

As per the letter, the Pir Saifur Rehman, Ziaur Rehman and Moeenuddin groups of Orakzai Agency as well as the Taj Moeen group of Lachi, Kohat and Zari Muhammad group of Qamar Dhand have been identified as outfits that are active in Kohat district.

A convoluted mix

As if the story was not complicated enough, the letter had revealed the presence of several more groups operating at lower tiers. “TTP has many branches and offshoots like those in Dara Adam Khel, Bajaur Agency, Mohmand Agency and the Hakimullah group and they cooperate closely whenever their interests are at stake but are otherwise independent of one another,” said a security official.

The number of militants who travel back and forth between the Afghan border stands at around 100 in Chitral. Moreover, around 100 militants are said to be operational in Dir and Swat, 250 each in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies and around 600 in Khyber Agency. Moreover, in Mirali, Miranshah, Shawal and Azam Warsak areas of North and South Waziristan their strength is around 7,500, informed the police official. 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2014.


Shuaib | 8 years ago | Reply

Well if they know their whereabouts, I suppose it's possible to eliminate all the ones which are no in Wazirstan. The South Waziristan ones want peace anyway. So put those 2,600 to a side and we have 4,900 left. All out war it is then. They have left no option for the government.

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