PESHAWAR: Security forces have warned tribesmen in a restive part of Khyber Agency against sheltering or harbouring militants or else action will be taken against them.
The warning was made in pamphlets airdropped from military helicopters on Sunday in Bara subdivision and the remote Tirah Valley where a military operation, codenamed Khyber-I, is under way since Thursday. According to Radio Pakistan, 37 militants have been killed in the operation thus far.
The development came a day after 50 militants of the Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) extremist group, including an important commander, surrendered to the security forces at Milot camp in Bara. The same day, Mangal Bagh’s son Israfeel, who was first mistakenly identified as his nephew, was killed along with a key commander of the group in a shooting incident in the Sipa area.
The pamphlet reads that the security forces have launched Operation Khyber-I to eliminate militants from Bara and Tirah who have unleashed a reign of terror in the region. These militants torch the houses of innocent tribesmen, publically flog them and even expel them from their areas in violation of all tribal traditions and customs, the pamphlet adds.
It further reads that the tyrannical actions of militants have triggered an exodus of tribesmen from different areas of Bara and Tirah which have become infamous for the growing cases of kidnapping for ransom. The operation was launched after the government exhausted all its options as the militants had been given several warnings to restore peace in the region.
Now since the operation has been launched, not a single militant would be left on the land of the Afridis, it adds. “Pakistan’s flag will be hoisted in the areas of Afridi tribesmen and all banned outfits will be eliminated from the region.”
In the pamphlet, the security forces also appealed to all peace-loving tribesmen to join hands with the government in this war which is not against the tribesmen but against militants. At the same time, the tribesmen were warned that anyone sheltering or aiding militants would be dealt with an iron hand.
The security forces also urged the militants who are willing to renounce violence and join the national mainstream to surrender before the security forces and political administration through local tribal elders.
Meanwhile, five suspected militants were arrested during a search operation by the security forces and Khasadar force in the Bakarabad area of Jamrud tehsil of Khyber Agency. The search operation was launched after the security forces surrounded the areas between Sakhipul and Bakarabad and briefly imposed a curfew, a security official said.
The official added that the operation led to the arrest if five suspected militants, including an important commander, who were subsequently shifted to an undisclosed location for investigation.
Meanwhile, hundreds of tribesmen have migrated to different parts of neighbouring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, including Peshawar, from Tirah and Bara through Jamrud. In all, 450 families have so far fled the restive region, officials say.
According to officials of the political administration, 100 families entered Jamrud trough Lala Kandao route. Some 350 families migrated a day earlier. Jamrud’s Political Tehsildar Irshad Mohmand confirmed that 450 displaced families have been registered at a camp set up for the IDPs at Lala Kandao.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2014.
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