Militant groups continue fighting in Khyber Agency

Tariq Saeed

Monday, January 28, 2013 - Peshawar—As the bloody clashes between the militants of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and those of Ansaar ul Islam continued in troubled Tiraah valley of Khyber agency on Sunday, the death toll of the three days infightings has crossed 60 with both the groups claiming to have inflicted heavy losses on each other. Besides, scores of people have also sustained serious injuries.

Fierce clashes between thetwo-outlawed groups of militantsi.e.Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)and Ansaar ul Islam (said to be a pro-government militant group) in Tiraah valley of Khyber agency started on Friday wee hours and resulted in the killing of over fifty people with the independent sources saying a number of innocent civilians are included among the dead till Saturday.

Sources said that the fighting between the two militant groups began in the remote valley near the Afghan border when the militants from TTP captured the base of militant group Ansaarul Islam, who tried to re-take the base and sparked fighting.

The rival groups were hitherto having a peace deal and decided not to take arms against each other. However, the Spokesman of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Ehsan ullah Ehsan, said it was the Ansaar ul Islam men who violated the peace deal, which he said Taliban made with them to ensure peace in the region. “First they killed our twenty comrades (Taliban) forcing TTP to come into action against them.”

TTP spokesman had said now the peace pack was no longer intact “The Ansaar ul Islam activists had also blocked all routes for the Taliban and now we are on war with them and will teach them better lesson”. Ehsan ullah Ehsan said.

The Ansaarul Islam sources, on the other hand said it all started when the militants from TTP captured the base of Ansaarul Islama. About 300 Talibaa armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades launched the overnight assault in the Maiden area of Tiraah valley on their base.

They vowed not to let TTP making hideouts in the valley under their control saying they do not support the terror activities of TTP in Pakistan and, therefore, they were resisting the TTP onslaught in the Tiraah valley. Reports reaching here from Bara Khyber agency said as both the groups stuck to their points of view, the fierce clashes continued even on Sunday in parts of Tiraah. “At least 61 persons were killed and scores wounded during the past three days of fierce fighting between the militants of TTP and Ansaar ul Islam which are still continuing unabated in the valley of Khyber Agency”. The official and independent sources confirmed.

Though a big majority of those killed and wounded in the tree days clashes belonged to the rival groups, the independent sources confirmed a number of civilians including women have also fallen prey to the infightings.

It was also reported that the bloody clashes where in the rival groups have been using most sophisticated weapons including mortar shells against each other, have forced the local population migrate to safer places as hundreds of families were seen running for their life to other areas.

The remote valley of Tiraah in Khyber agency tucked in mountainous terrain is highly valued by militant groups as a base of operations.

It’s difficult for the Pakistani military to enter the area, which allows militants easy access to Afghanistan and other tribal areas of Pakistan.

The security forces are also reported to have been put on high alert and taken positions check escalation.

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