Taliban throw down the gauntlet by setting up new fronts in Upper Dir Valley in Pak

September 19th, 2008 - 3:29 pm ICT by ANI  


Islamabad , Sept 19 (ANI): The Taliban have reportedly set up new fronts in Maidan in the hills of the Upper Dir Valley , after scaring and intimidating the locals. The arrival of militants (who have been trained for fighting in Afghanistan ), in the Dir Valley comes at a crucial moment when Pakistan security forces are busy in carrying out counter-insurgency operations in the tribal areas, reported The Telegraph.

The Taliban encroachment has seeped from Pakistan ‘’s seven tribal areas into adjacent areas nominally under full government control. Last week 20 more locals were killed and 30 wounded when militants hurled grenades and fired indiscriminately into a Dir mosque, added the paper.

A local ANP leader in Maidan said that a lot of foreign militants had entered the area. We know the local militants but we don”t know the foreigners and outsiders who have arrived here. They are the mostly hardline, well-trained fighters, the paper quoted Hussain Shah, a local leader of the ANPs NWFP unit, as saying.

At a funeral service held two weeks ago in Maidan, fear had silenced the mourners, even as prayers were said for Mehmud Jan, the right-hand man of Sufi Mohammed, a former leader of a rival militant group Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM). One of his friends said that Jan had been courageous to talk against the Taliban.

Militants riddled Jan with bullets in front of his house as he set out to pray in a nearby mosque. Nobody knows who to trust. Fear is everywhere. We do not look anybody in the eye, said Jan’’s friend.

Meanwhile, in Bajaur, the Pakistan Army has pounded militant positions with artillery, helicopter gun-ships and F-16 aircraft and claimed to have killed over 700 militants in the past month. The Army has met stiff resistance and militants have dug themselves into bunkers and tunnels. This week the Army sent reinforcements preparing the ground for further fighting.

On the other hand, in Swat area the Army claimed to have killed 130 militants as it has bombed militant positions around the districts main city of Mingora , which is exposed to terrorist attacks. Police stations at its edges have faced numerous attacks and locals have fled from villages on the outskirts to escape militant harassment and the military’’s artillery.

Mingora’’s government buildings are pocked by suicide blasts and rocket attacks. The militants have targeted the security forces and have bombed nearly 130 government-run schools. Similar to a campaign that wiped out 120 tribal leaders in Waziristan militants have begun to methodically assassinate Swat’’s politicians from the ANP. (ANI)

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