At least 35 people were arrested in a search operation conducted by the Pakistan Army and the police in Mattani, Raheemabad and Adezai villages on Tuesday night.
The army, backed by the police and elite force commandos, cordoned off the entire area around 9pm on Tuesday before combing through the villages at midnight. The search continued till 5am by which time several dozen houses had been checked and at least 35 people had been arrested. The suspects were taken to an undisclosed location for interrogation.
Locals told The Express Tribune the markets in Mattani were forced shut by army personnel and shopkeepers were asked to keep the store shutters down and the lights off till after the operation.
“No one was allowed to come in or go out of the area. After the raids in Mattani, security force personnel moved towards Adezai village where several people were also arrested. At least 23 were taken from Mattani,” an elder told The Express Tribune.
“They raided the house of a local, Sharbat Khan, who was not at home but his five sons were arrested and taken away. However, all five were released by morning,” said the elder. Sharbat had a personal feud in the past, an enmity which was brought to an end through a Taliban jirga but, the elder added, since then Sharbat has been on the run as the police was after him.
A police official said it was not a door-to-door search operation but a targeted one based on intelligence reports. “Such operations are needed to discourage militants and their supporters in the area as militants still have a strong presence in Khyber Agency and Frontier Region Peshawar as well as an underground presence in Mattani too.”
He said it was evident from their June 19 attack on the house of aman lashker commander Qari Sajjid in Adezai in which one member of the laskhar was killed and six others were injured.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2014.
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