Tag Archives: TTP

TTP’s Jamaatul Ahrar claims responsibility

Suicide blast kills at least 65 in Lahore park

By Rana Tanveer / Agencies / Muhammad Shahzad / Ali Usman / Abdul Manan / Tahir Khan

religion 5
Photo credits: Social media.

 

Excerpt:

…. A Pakistan Taliban splinter group claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide attack.

“We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter,” spokesperson for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaat ul Ahrar, Ehansullah Ehsan said. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/1073825/blast-in-lahore-leaves-several-injured/

Mosque versus state

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

THE mosque in Pakistan is now no longer just a religious institution. Instead it has morphed into a deeply political one that seeks to radically transform culture and society. Actively assisted by the state in this mission in earlier decades, the mosque is a powerful actor over which the state now exercises little authority. Some have been captured by those who fight the government and military. An eviscerated, embattled state finds it easier to drop bombs on the TTP in tribal Waziristan than to rein in its urban supporters, or to dismiss from state payroll those mosque leaders belonging to militant groups.

Very few Pakistanis have dared to criticise the country’s increasingly powerful mosque establishment although they do not spare the Pakistan Army and the country’s political leaders for their many shortcomings. For example, following the Army Public School massacre, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s promise to regulate the madressahs was immediately criticised as undoable. Had he instead suggested that Pakistan’s mosques be brought under state control as in Saudi Arabia, Iran and several Muslim countries, it would have been dismissed as belonging to even beyond the undoable.

The state’s timidity was vividly exposed in its handling of the 2007 bloody insurrection, launched from inside Islamabad’s central mosque, Lal Masjid, barely a mile from the heart of Pakistan’s government. It was a defining point in Pakistan’s history. The story of the Lal Masjid insurrection, its bloody ending, and subsequent rebound is so critical to understanding the limitations of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism that it deserves to be told once again.

Very few Pakistanis have dared to criticise the country’s increasingly powerful mosque establishment.

In early January 2007, the two head clerics of the Lal Masjid demanded the immediate rebuilding of eight illegally constructed mosques knocked down by the civic authorities. Days later, an immediate enforcement of Sharia in Islamabad was demanded. Armed vigilante groups from Jamia Hafsa and nearby madressahs kidnapped ordinary citizens and policemen, threatened shopkeepers, burned CDs and videos, and repeated the demands of tribal militants fighting the Pakistan Army.

At a meeting held in Lal Masjid on April 6, 2007, it was reported that 100 guest religious leaders from across the country pledged to die for the cause of Islam and Sharia. On April 12, in an illegal FM broadcast from the mosque’s own radio station, the clerics issued a threat to the government: “There will be suicide blasts in every nook and cranny of the country. We have weapons, grenades and we are expert in manufacturing bombs. We are not afraid of death….”

The brothers Abdul Aziz and Abdur Rashid Ghazi, who headed the Lal Masjid, had attracted a core of militant organisations around them, including the pioneer of suicide bombings in the region, Jaish-e-Mohammad. Their goal was to change Pakistan’s culture. On April 12, 2007, Rashid Ghazi, a former student of Quaid-i-Azam University, broadcast the following chilling message to our female students:

“The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-i-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses. They will have to hide themselves in hijab otherwise they will be punished according to Islam…. Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it.

Continue reading Mosque versus state

Pakistan Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Pakistan has literally become a delusional country ...
Pakistan has literally become a delusional country …

By 

My country Pakistan is still reeling from the shock and disbelief due to the December 16 tragedy in which more than 130 children died. Over the years, Pakistan has suffered a lot due to terrorism as countless people have lost their lives. But what happened on the December 16 was extremely dark and gory even by Pakistani standard.

And yet whatever happened on that fateful day is in many ways a result of our own faults. And in this journey towards mayhem, it is not just the Pakistani state but the general public also has played a prominent part.

Nothing will change until this narrative changes and our mindset which accommodates it changes. Pakistan has to realize that it is its own worst enemy.

What happened on December 16 or has been happening over the years is the direct consequence of using religion as a political tool to achieve some strategic objectives. For many years Pakistani state has used religious militant groups for achieving “strategic” objectives and in the process it has always taken it for granted that one cannot feed crocodiles and expect that they will only attack the “enemy”.

Although Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is different from Afghan Taliban — as the latter is often categorized as “good” Taliban — but the fact is that even if different, both have mutated from the same template. TTP just like Afghan Taliban is a militant organization which seeks motivation from religion and aims to implement a very strict form of religious code.

But state’s practice of supporting such groups is just one part of the story. The fact that public opinion has never been really against such groups is something which is even more troublesome. Over the years, Pakistani public has been in strange form of denial and has always considered militants such as the TTP as merely reacting to U.S. presence in Afghanistan and its policy of carrying drone attacks.

Much more than anything else, it is this mindset which is deeply problematic. Even when it became obvious that TTP was killing and even accepting responsibility, Pakistan’s response was of denial. Some kept on calling it propaganda against Taliban to defame them while others kept on giving apologetic defense to them by calling their inhuman atrocities as “reaction”.

Continue reading Pakistan Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Pakistani spy agency’s relations with militants blamed for school massacre

Some see ISI’s ambiguous approach towards different groups in effort to counter Indian influence as fuelling attacks

By , south Asia correspondent, The Guardian

Within days of a militant attack earlier this year on the Indian consulate in the western Afghan city of Herat, intelligence officials in Kabul and Delhi were told by their US counterparts that communication intercepts indicated that the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba group (LeT) was responsible.

A lucky shot from a guard had hit the leader of the assault team, giving defenders time to prepare and the four attackers had all been killed. US officials said they had aimed to take hostages and cause a drawn-out crisis intended to destabilise India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, just days after his landslide election win.

The new details of the operation will be seen as further evidence of the close relationship between LeT and Pakistan’s security establishment.

LeT was responsible for a 2008 attack on the Indian commercial capital of Mumbai in which around 170 people were killed by militants who had arrived by boat from the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi. A key figure in the attack told US and court officials that middle-ranking officials from the Pakistani military’s Directorate of InterServices Intelligence (ISI) had at very least facilitated the assault.

Western intelligence officials also believe the ISI has close relations with the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, an insurgent faction which has repeatedly struck international targets in Afghanistan.

“There have been intelligence reports that link the ISI particularly to the Haqqani network,” Joseph Dunford, the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, said in April.

The ISI also maintains links with a range of sectarian groups within Pakistan and outfits primarily focussed on fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir.

Some blame these continuing relationships for the carnage at the army-run school in Peshawar on Tuesday.

The link is indirect. Few say that there is any connection between the Pakistan Taliban (TTP), the rough coalition of groups that has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the country’s security establishment.

“The military formally and institutionally considers the TTP as an enemy of the state as it has killed many soldiers over the years,” said Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson centre in Washington.

Pakistan’s use of certain militant groups as strategic assets, however, makes concerted action against others impossible, according to Ajai Sahni, an Indian security analyst.

“If you allow space for armed Islamist groups you can’t really distinguish one from another,” Sahni said.

The policy of using militants as auxiliaries goes back to the earliest days of the new Pakistani nation and its partition from India following independence from Britain. Such forces were seen by the new country’s military commanders as an effective way of countering their eastern neighbour’s huge demographic, economic and military advantage. They have played a key role in Pakistan’s four wars with India. Auxiliaries were also deployed in Kashmir in the 1990s. When hundreds of Pakistani militants infiltrated across the de facto frontier in the disputed Himalayan territory in 1999, they sparked the most recent overt conflict.

Read more » The Guardian
Learn more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/17/pakistan-spy-agency-isi-relations-militants-blamed-school-massacre

No more excuses for Taliban violence, Bhutto heir tells Pakistan’s leaders

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 25, says prime minister and Imran Khan letting down nation by not backing firm military action

By  in Mohenjodaro

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the youthful heir apparent to one of south Asia’s most famous dynasties, has launched a scathing attack on his political opponents who he said must stop “making excuses” for Taliban violence.

The 25-year-old son of the assassinated prime minister Benazir Bhutto said Nawaz Sharif, the country’s current leader, and the opposition politician Imran Khan, were “letting down the people” by not backing firm military action against the Taliban.

“Perhaps they are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome,” Bhutto Zardari said, referring to cases of hostages who sympathise with or even assist their captors. “There is no reason why the national leaders, the so-called leaders, should not speak out against people who are murdering our citizens, murdering our armed forces and claiming responsibility.”

The remarks are likely to further burnish his reputation as both a brash new arrival on Pakistan‘s political scene but also the most outspoken politician in the country on the issue of militancy and extremism.

He does not sit in parliament, but wields significant influence over the Pakistan People’s party (PPP), of which he is “patron in chief”. The party has been led in the past by his grandfather, his mother – who was killed while campaigning in 2007 – and his father, Asif Ali Zardari. Khan and other right-wing politicians have been criticised for handling the Pakistani Taliban with kid gloves, in a so-far unsuccessful bid to lure them into peace talks.

On Saturday the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP ), as the country’s deadly coalition of militants is known, signalled its appreciation of Khan’s approach by announcing the movement wanted him to sit on a committee with four extremist clerics known to sympathise with militant aims. The TTP said Khan and the others could represent its interests in peace talks with the government.

Khan brushed off the embarrassing endorsement, saying “the TTP should select their own Taliban representatives for the peace talks”.

Even mass-casualty suicide attacks on civilians have at times elicited only meek condemnations. Many politicians are reluctant even to identify the culprits as the TTP.

Bhutto Zardari said the tactic had been disastrous, emboldening extremists to target civilians, including Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl education activist who nearly died in 2012 after being shot in the head by a Taliban assassin. “This is why people like Malala become targets because the politicians, or the so-called leaders of this country, can’t find the courage to speak out when a 16-year-old girl could. If we all speak in one voice, they can’t kill us all,” he said.

The TTP has used a highly effective intimidation campaign against liberal and left-leaning political parties and journalists to silence many of its natural critics. Bhutto Zardari said he could speak out only because of the vast security operation that surrounds him at all times and heavily restricts his travel in Pakistan, where he spends much of his time at his fortress-like family compound in Karachi.

“I have a lot of security – I lost my mother to the Taliban because of a lack of security – and that explains partly why I can be so vocal,” he said. “But so does Imran Khan. Nawaz Sharif is the prime minister of Pakistan, Shahbaz Sharif is the chief minister of Punjab. They all have more security than I do. They have no excuse.”

In the past Khan has said strident rhetoric might endanger the lives of his supporters and party activists. Bhutto Zardari has shown no such caution, even though he hopes thousands of members of the public will be attracted to numerous cultural events he has organised across Sindhin the coming weeks. They are part of a festival he has promoted as a deliberate challenge to extremists and militants he derisively calls “cavemen”.

Read more » The Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/02/taliban-violence-excuses-bilawal-bhutto-zardini-pakistan-military-action

What ISIS and the ‘caliphate’ mean for Pakistan

Taliban TerroristsBy Muhammad Amir Rana

Among many factors, the Pakistani state’s protracted apathy and inaction on the issue of security has provided non-state actors the spaces to grow and expand their influence. They used these spaces not only to propagate their ideologies and narratives but also to establish a ‘state within the state’ in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Even as counteraction is now underway, the sudden rise of ISIS has threatened to make matters worse for us.

The militants are jubilant over the success of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which has established a ‘caliphate’, or ‘Islamic state’ in parts of Syria and Iraq. This is not the first time militants have captured some territory and established their so-called Islamic writ.

Afghanistan, Pakistani tribal areas, Northern Mali and Somalia have experienced similar ventures by militants in the past, though on varying levels.

Rise of ISIS ≠ Fall of al Qaeda

Many experts see the decline of al Qaeda in the rise of ISIS, while analysing the recent developments happening in Iraq and Syria. That is a mistake.

A realistic review of militants’ strategies suggests that they first challenge the very foundation of the state by providing alternative socio-cultural and political narratives and then march onto its physical territory.

They may have differences over strategies, as ISIS and al Qaeda had, but ultimately they overcome their differences. Al Qaeda might feel stunned over the ‘victories’ of ISIS but now, instead of arguing with ISIS over strategies, will prefer to develop a consensus over a model of caliphate.

In some cases, militants develop alliances with nationalist groups.

That’s what happened in Northern Mali, where the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) had developed coordination with Islamist groups. But when they captured a territory, Islamist groups started imposing Shariah. The alliance was weakened due to ensuing infightings and eventually broke up after a military offensive was launched by the French forces.

A dangerous inspiration

Apart from group dynamics, inspiration plays an important role in militants’ efforts to replicate one success in other parts of the world.

The rise and success of ISIS could play a very dangerous, inspirational role in Pakistan, where more than 200 religious organisations are operating on the national and regional level.

These organisations pursue multiple agendas such as transformation of society according to their ideologies, the enforcement of Shariah law, establishment of Khilafah (caliphate) system, fulfilment of their sectarian objectives and achievement of Pakistan’s strategic and ideological objectives through militancy.

Such organisations could be influenced by the success of ISIS in various ways. A few would limit themselves to providing just moral support, but others might actively provide donations and financial assistance on ISIS’ call.

Common purpose: Establish the state of Khurasan

Still others — mainly religious extremist and militant organisations — could find inspiration in ISIS’ strategies and tactics.

This is possible since even groups operating in two different regions can find common ground in the Takfiri ideologies they believe in, and in the organisational links they share with each other.

The map released by ISIS shows countries for expansion marked in black across North Africa, into mainland Spain, across the Middle East and into Muslim countries of Central and South Asian region. It depicts exactly the states, which are or once remained under Muslim control.

According to this notion, the territory which has come under Muslim rule even once becomes a permanent part of Islamic caliphate. These territories, if later invaded by non-Muslims, will be considered as unjustly occupied territories and it will be obligatory for a Muslim to struggle to regain them.

Interestingly, the ISIS map shows both Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the Islamic caliphate state’s Khurasan province. Al Qaeda and its affiliates believe that the movement for the establishment of the Islamic state of Khurasan will emerge from the region comprising of the Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan and Malakand region of Pakistan.

They consider Khurasan as the base camp of international jihad, from where they will expand the Islamic state boundaries into other non-Muslim lands. Mullah Fazlullah of Swat was inspired by the notion and considered himself the founder of the Khurasan movement.

Many other groups and commanders in Pakistan and Afghanistan subscribe to the same idea, but only a few groups have dedicated themselves to the cause of establishment of the Islamic state of Khurasan.

The current TTP leadership — mainly Fazlullah and his deputy Qayum Haqqani, and Khalid Khurasani group in Mohmand and Bajaur agencies of Fata — are leading this movement, not only on the militant, but on the ideological front as well.

The concentration of al Qaeda and TTP hardliner groups in Kunar and Nuristan are of the same mind; they intend to use the territory as a base camp for the establishment of the state of Khurasan. Though they are not strong enough to trigger a massive militant campaign like the one going on in Iraq, they will remain a critical security irritant and keep inspiring radical minds in the region.

Continue reading What ISIS and the ‘caliphate’ mean for Pakistan

Dancing to TTP’s tunes

By Intikhab Amir

PESHAWAR: The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) holds the centre stage, changing directions of the game every now and then. In short, it is TTP’s sweet will that is holding the sway.

When it decides to hit and kill us, we bow our heads and get killed. When it decides to talk and kill us as well, we oblige: we fly our helicopter to North Waziristan to facilitate its emissaries to meet their bosses and at the same time we keep collecting corpses from Peshawar to Karachi.

And now when the state’s fighter jets and helicopters have conducted surgical air strikes targeting TTP’s sanctuaries, the terrorists announced ceasefire and we feel happy to oblige and live peacefully with them for the next one month.

Think the one month period in terms of the possibility: no bomb blasts and IED attacks. This has not happened for the past so many years. So we should be happy!

What is more interesting is the fact that the day TTP was about to make the ceasefire public in the evening, its operatives attacked polio vaccinators in Khyber Agency in the morning.

If the TTP bosses were giving serious thoughts to the idea of giving peace a chance, they should have postponed the Saturday morning attack in Khyber Agency.

But who cares? Ceasefire is the buzzword. The other catchphrase these days is ‘on the same page’.

Earlier, doubts were being spewed whether the civil administration and the military leaders were on the same page or not. Now, at least, the TTP bosses are on the same page with the government.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1090698/dancing-to-ttps-tunes

Liberal newspaper Express Tribune cowed into silence by Pakistani Taliban

Media group opts for self-censorship on terrorism after Taliban admits murder of three employees for critical reports on militants

By Jon Boone, in Islamabad

When it was launched four years ago, the Express Tribune set out to become the house newspaper of liberal-minded Pakistanis.

A newcomer to a market dominated by conservative-inclined papers, it made a point of writing about everything from the relentless rise of religious extremism to gay rights.

But in recent weeks the paper has been cowed into silence by an unusually blatant display of power by the Pakistani Taliban.

The paper was forced to drastically tone down its coverage last month after three employees of the media group, which includes another newspaper and television channel, were killed in Karachi by men armed with pistols and silencers on 17 January.

The attack was later claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a large coalition of militant groups, which accused the media group of disseminating anti-Taliban propaganda.

Read more » theguardian
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/28/liberal-newspaper-express-tribune-silenced-pakistani-taliban

Even India treated our soldiers better in 1971- Pervez Rashid

Minister questions Taliban’s Sharia

ISLAMABAD: Lashing out at Pakistani Taliban for slaughtering 23 paramilitary personnel, Information Minister Pervez Rashid on Wednesday questioned whether the militants’ action was in accordance with the Islamic Sharia.

Speaking to media representatives, he criticized the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership for the inhuman killing of the captive Frontier Cops (FC) soldiers.

“People favouring enforcement of Sharia should tell what treatment captives deserve according to the Sharia …… and the treatment those (FC men) received was in accordance with the Islamic laws or not,” he questioned.

The minister said that TTP’s central spokesman Shahidullah Shahid should have conveyed their reservations to the negotiating team they formed. “But, they didn’t do it and firstly attacked policemen in Karachi and then killed FC personnel,” he added.

Taking a strong stand against the home grown militants, he said the government also has reservations which the Taliban must address first.

Referring to the 1971’s war against India, Rashid said, “Even our rival country treated our 90,000 war captives in accordance with the Geneva Convention.” “Did they (Indians) behead even a single Pakistani soldier,” he questioned.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1088101

Shrine of Sufi poet set afire in Pakistan

KARACHI: The shrine of Pakistani Sufi poet Mast Twakali, revered across the subcontinent, has been set afire by unknown persons in the restive Balochistan province.

The shrine, visit by hundreds of devotees each day, has been partially damaged in the fire, authorities in Kohlu district said.

Kohlu deputy commissioner Ejaz Haider said some unknown persons had entered the shrine on Saturday and set it afire.

“But because people of the area gathered quickly and put out the fire the shrine was saved but a big portion has been damaged,” Haider said.

Five suspects have been arrested in connection with the case, he added.

Towaq Ali Mast – popularly known as Mast Twakali – was born in 1828. He spread the message of love for the humanity through his poetry.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and other militant groups, which consider going to shrines as un-islamic, have in the past targeted them.

Read more » THE TIMES OF INDIA
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Shrine-of-Sufi-poet-set-afire-in-Pakistan/articleshow/30164949.cms?intenttarget=no

Pakistan’s march to theocracy

There are growing concerns that the country was fast moving toward a theocratic order.

It was a quick call from my editor’s office in Karachi informing me not to bother writing anymore about the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or any other militant outfit, religious party or even the cricketer-turned-politician’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). I was told I couldn’t even mention TTP and its other sister organisations. The call came in the wake of an attack on a vehicle carrying staff of a media group which killed three people and injured another four.

The TTP was quick to take responsibility. The spokesman of the militant outfit Ehsanullah Ehsan even appeared on a television program and warned the media group about giving the TTP bad press. The channel’s anchor Javed Chaudhry had to promise a “balanced” representation of views about the militants and their agenda. Furthermore, Ehsan claimed the attack was an attempt to force Pakistan to meet the promise of imposing Sharia law in the country.

A day later on January 19, another 20 Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers were killed and about 30 injured in a suicide attack in Bannu Cantonment in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). This was followed by an attack on January 20 in Rawalpindi Cantonment near the Pakistan Army’s GHQ, bringing the death toll up to 33 and the number of wounded to 63. Not to mention the constant targeting of polio workersacross the country.

These attacks happen despite the civilian government’s claim to engage the Taliban in a dialogue to end the violence. The first attack on the television channel came the same day as the statement by the TTP spokesman announcing his group’s willingness to talk with Pakistan’s government as long as the latter ensured the implementation of Sharia law in the country.

Read more » aljazeera
http://m.aljazeera.com/story/20141266302173397

The $120,000 farmhouse where the TTP chief was killed

By: AFP

MIRANSHAH: With marble floors, lush green lawns and a towering minaret, the $120,000 farm where feared Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died in a US drone strike was no grubby mountain cave.

Mehsud spent his days skipping around Pakistan’s rugged tribal areas to avoid the attentions of US drones.

But his family, including two wives, had the use of an eight-roomed farmhouse set amid lawns and orchards growing apples, oranges, grapes and pomegranates.

As well as the single-storey house, the compound in Dandey Darpakhel village, five kilometres north of Miramshah, was adorned with a tall minaret, purely for decorative purposes.

Militant sources said the property in the North Waziristan tribal area was bought for Mehsud nearly a year ago for $120,000, a huge sum by Pakistani standards, by close aide Latif Mehsud, who was captured by the US in Afghanistan last month.

An AFP journalist visited the property several times when the previous owner, a wealthy landlord, lived there.

With the Pakistan army headquarters for restive North Waziristan just a kilometre away, locals thought of Mehsud’s compound as the “safest” place in a dangerous area.

Its proximity to a major military base recalls the hideout of Osama bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad, on the doorstep of Pakistan’s elite military academy.

“I saw a convoy of vehicles two or three times in this street but I never thought Hakimullah would have been living here. It was the safest place for us before this strike,” local shopkeeper Akhter Khan told AFP.

This illusion of safety was shattered on Friday when a US drone fired at least two missiles at Mehsud’s vehicle as it stood at the compound gate waiting to enter, killing the Pakistani Taliban chief and four cadres.

The area around Dandey Darpakhel is known as a hub for the Haqqani network, a militant faction blamed for some of the most high-profile attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.

Read more » DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1054033

Drone kills TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud: intelligence officials

PESHAWAR: Hakimullah Mehsud, the chief of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan tribal agency on Friday, intelligence officials said.

Pakistani intelligence officials have reported to their higher-ups that the Pakistani Taliban supremo was leaving from a meeting at a mosque Dande Darpakhel area of North Waziristan when the drone targeted their vehicle.

Five militants, including Abdullah Bahar Mehsud and Tariq Mehsud, both key militant commanders and close aides of the TTP chief, were also killed in the drone strike, multiple sources confirmed.

There was no confirmation from the Pakistani government or the Taliban yet of the deaths.

Dande Darpakhel area is located five kilometres (three miles) north of Miramshah, the main town of the North Waziristan tribal region, said to be a stronghold for the Pakistani Taliban.

The strike came a day after three insurgents were killed in another drone attack that also targeted a rebel compound near Miramshah. The US unmanned plane was still flying in the area after the attack.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said they were getting reports of the drone strike in North Waziristan agency. Condemning the strikes, he said these were aimed to sabotage efforts for establishing peace in the country.

“A delegation was about to be sent to talk to Taliban tomorrow (Saturday),” said the minister hinting that a “senior militant commander” may have been killed in today’s strike.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid earlier today said they have had “no contact” with the government, a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said a process to initiate peace talks had been started.

The incident comes a week after Sharif urged US President Barack Obama to stop drone strikes during a meeting in Washington.

The Pakistani defence ministry Wednesday said 317 US drone strikes in the country’s tribal areas had killed 67 civilians and 2,160 militants in Pakistan since 2008.

US drone attacks are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, but Washington sees them as a vital tool in the fight against militants in the lawless tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

The Pakistani government has repeatedly protested against drone strikes as a violation of its sovereignty. But privately officials have been reported as saying the attacks can be useful in removing militants from the country.

This is a developing story and will be updated as reports come in

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1053410

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Taliban leader ‘killed in strike’

Hakimullah Mehsud, head of the Pakistan Taliban, has been killed in a drone strike, security sources told Reuters.

The head of the Pakistani Tailban, Hakimullah Meshud, was among four people killed in a US drone strike in the North Waziristan region today, security sources have said.

Read more » ITv

Source – http://www.itv.com/news/story/2013-11-01/head-of-pakistan-taliban-killed-in-drone-strike/

A man with nerves of steel

By Sadia Qasim Shah

PESHAWAR: Five years full of nerve-testing situations, tight security barriers, chilling death threats, social isolation (as others considered him a security threat to themselves) and apparently even the cold-blooded killing of his only young son seem not to have broken the spirits of the 55-year-old Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the spokesperson of the former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government which had opposed the terrorists and successfully rescued the Swat Valley from falling into their hands.

“One should never lose hope,” says Mr Hussain in an exclusive interview with Dawn, with his typical serene smile and composed demeanour, showing no sign of bitterness even after losing his seat in May 11 general elections.

Mr Hussain doesn’t show he is a broken man, though he is going to observe third anniversary of his sole son who was targeted by the Taliban.

The man who as a spokesperson of ANP government emerged as a bold voice against the terrorist conglomerate called Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spent sleepless nights finding a way to express his innermost thoughts and agony after his only son Mian Rashid Hussain, only 26, was killed by Taliban to teach Mian Sahib a lesson.

Continue reading A man with nerves of steel

New fears: TTP in Syria

THE problem with a head-in-the-sand approach to fighting militancy is that the rest of the body is left exposed. For a while now the TTP has been an enemy of the Pakistani state but there is hardly a faction within that umbrella organisation that at some point over the years has not been in the good books of the army-led security establishment. But the good Taliban/bad Taliban dichotomy never made sense to begin with and as time has gone by, the contradictions have become apparent. The TTP in all its forms has always been bad news for this country’s internal stability and external relations. Just how bad has been underlined in recent days with two foreign news services reporting that the TTP has claimed to have sent men to Syria to fight alongside rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

The Arab nexus, including links to Al Qaeda, has always been apparent in the arc of the TTP’s relatively short history. Unlike, say, the Afghan Taliban who by and large have hewed to a purely domestic agenda, ie ridding Afghanistan of foreign ‘invaders’, the TTP’s overall agenda has leaned more towards the concept of a global jihad. In the past, that has meant offering sanctuary to foreign militants who arrived in Fata for training or to escape more hostile environments in their home countries. Eventually, however, a resilient TTP was always likely to seek to contribute directly to so-called jihadist struggles outside the Pak-Afghan region. As with all things, TTP claims made by various commanders take time to be established but if the Syria claims are verified, it would mark an alarming new phase in the militant network’s existence.

Syria may be an epic mess on its own, but other countries that could be potential destinations for the TTP’s battle-hardened cadre of fighters will surely be alarmed by the possibility. Pakistan is already fairly isolated in the international arena because of its inability to systematically curb the activities of non-state actors on Pakistani soil and this latest development will only add to the pressure. But it is in the domestic arena that the repercussions will be the most severe. The TTP has proved to be far more resilient than originally thought, though perhaps that is in no small part aided by the lack of a coherent strategy on the part of the state to fight militancy. If the TTP is confident enough to be sending fighters abroad, does that mean the network believes it has enough resources locally to successfully fend off the Pakistani state? That is an enormously worrying possibility.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1029169/new-fears-ttp-in-syria

After owning the deadly bomb blast in Quetta, Taliban (TTP) welcomes Nawaz Sharif’s call for peace talks

TTP welcomes Nawaz’s call for peace talks

By Zahir Shah Sherazi

PESHAWAR: Nawaz Sharif’s call for peace talks made to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan was welcomed by the proscribed militant organisation on Thursday.

Talking to Dawn.com from an undisclosed area, TTP spokespersons Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the offer for peace talks made by Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif was a positive sign and that the militant organisation was devising a strategy over the course of action to be taken in response to the peace talk offers.

Moreover Ehsan also claimed that the banned oganisation was responsible for the bomb attack in Quetta today and said that the attack was carried out in retaliation to the killing in Balochistan of their activists from Malakand region.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://beta.dawn.com/news/1013236/ttp-welcomes-nawazs-call-for-peace-talks

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Three Reasons Not to Talk to the Pakistani Taliban

By Michael Kugelman

In recent days, the PML-N and PTI have announced their readiness to talk to the TTP.

What a shame.

In effect, these two parties — one soon to govern Pakistan, the other to govern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa — are saying they’re willing to hunker down with monsters who shoot schoolgirls at point-blank range, gun down health workers in Pakistan’s sickest regions, and brandish severed heads, by the hair and with gusto, as the cameras roll.

It’s actually not the idea of talking to savages that I find objectionable. After all, history is rife with examples of governments negotiating with sadistic forces. In some cases—think the Irish Republican Army and Colombia’s FARC rebels—these efforts have actually been quite successful, and resulted in peaceful outcomes.

What bothers me (as an outsider, admittedly) is the fact that talking to the Pakistani Taliban simply doesn’t make sense, and for three simple reasons.

First, the TTP has repeatedly reneged on previous peace deals. In 2009, following several years’ worth of alleged agreements with the state, the TTP did not lay down itsarms. Instead it lay claim to Swat—and instituted a reign of terror. If another olive branch is officially extended to KP-based Taliban forces, expect an emboldened TTP to regroup before establishingnew areas of violently enforced authority that ban girls from going to school and stifle free expression — including the social media that helped fuel the PTI’s rise. This scenario would not only be gloomy, but alsoironic—given that the PTI’s message of change has targeted, in part, educated, tech-savvy urbanites, including many women.

Second, the TTP wants to demolish Pakistan’s political system; it often articulates its fervent desire to destroy “anti-Islamic” democracy.While much has been made of the TTP’s campaign of election-related violence against Pakistan’s secular political parties, spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan has also insinuated that all participants in the democratic system are fair game — including, presumably, the PTI and PML-N. “We are not expecting any good from the other parties either, who are supporters of the same system, but why they are not targeted is our own prerogative to decide,” he explained ominously to Dawn.com several weeks back.

The third reason why it makes little sense to talk to the TTP is that the government doesn’t operate from a position of strength. Experts often say it’s best to negotiate when your interlocutor is on the defensive. The TTP, however, is very much on the offensive. Its highly organised, and wholly uncontested, assault on political parties this election season came on the heels of a relentless rash of attacks in KP that had analysts speaking of the “potential loss” of Peshawar to the TTP. By agreeing to talk now, you’re effectively surrendering — or at the very least, acknowledging your fundamental vulnerability.

Stop being hypocritical, you might say. The US government supports dialogue with the Afghan Taliban, so why lambast Pakistan’s willingness to talk to the TTP?

This may sound like a reasonable rebuttal — but it’s not. Some members of the Afghan Taliban, unlike those of the TTP, have expressed a willingness to participate in a future democratic Afghan government (already, in fact,some Afghan government officials are former Taliban fighters). The Afghan Taliban appears open to operating within the existing political system, and not necessarily intent on obliterating it. It also has no legacy of reneging on peace agreements (though to be fair, it’s never concluded one).

Continue reading Three Reasons Not to Talk to the Pakistani Taliban

Five prisoners plotted attacks on Pakistan Army, “Prisoners arrested”

Five prisoners held over plotting attacks on Pakistan Army

RAWALPINDI: At least five prisoners were arrested from Bahawalpur and Adyala jails for their alleged involvement in a plot to carry out terrorist attacks on Army, Geo News reported on Wednesday.

According to sources, the arrestees were accused of conspiring to the attack troops and army top brass.

The accused, who had been detained in Bahawalpur and Adyala jails for the last 3 years, have been shifted to unknown location for further investigation.

The alleged plotters are reported to have links with proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders in Miranshah and Kohat.

Continue reading Five prisoners plotted attacks on Pakistan Army, “Prisoners arrested”

Warning of Violence: TTP focused on ending democracy, says Mehsud

MIRANSHAH: In a letter to the media, leader of banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has said that his group is focused on jeopardising democracy by hindering elections in the country.

“We have succeeded politically after we were asked to negotiate by the government,” said Hakimullah Mehsud.

He added that the group was now solely ‘focused’ on the next elections.

As elections are nearing, TTP’s aim would be to “end the democratic system,” the letter further said. Mehsud also urged TTP militants to target senior politicians and party leaders, while continuing the battle against security forces.

Furthermore, in a rare address from an undisclosed location, the militant chief claimed that the TTP was not just fighting a war on a tactical level, but were also able to ‘subdue’ politicians by making them negotiate.

TTP student union

A student union of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan was traced by the police while three of its members splashed posters and banners around Multan.

The publicity material was scripted with inflammatory messages, encouraging people to not vote in elections as democracy was ‘un-Islamic’. It demanded that the people of Pakistan should adhere to the shariah (Islamic law), and said that it was haraam for them to participate in the voting process.

Police claim that the three members were students belonged to Lahore, but were enrolled at the Bahauddin Zakarriya University in Multan. After posting 50 banners in the urban area, they were putting posters on the walls of the Multan press club when they were caught by the journalists.

Continue reading Warning of Violence: TTP focused on ending democracy, says Mehsud

Pakistan – Tirah valley operation intensifies, 23 soldiers killed

By

PESHAWAR: A decisive operation has been launched against militants in the Tirah valley of Bara by Special Services Groups (SSG) forces along with regular troops, during which at least 23 troops have been killed along with local lashkar men.

Scores of militants have also been killed in the offensive during the last three days.

Official sources confirmed to Dawn.com that several soldiers, including SSG commandos, have been killed in the battle for Tirah valley on Saturday, around 30 militants have also been confirmed dead along with scores of others injured.

On late Sunday evening, a clash took place between security forces and militants in Akka Khel area of Bara tehsil. Ten militants were killed in the fighting, official sources said.

Sources said that SSG commandos along with regular army troops and Frontier Corps are battling to root out the last pockets of resistance in the Tirah valley especially on the border of Orakzai Agency.

The landlocked area is reported to be a bastion of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other foreign militants.

The offensive has entered a crucial phase, after softening of targets by gunships and jet fighters.

Ground troops along with local volunteers have been mobilised to clear the area.

Security experts had already hinted at a decisive strike in the Tirah valley as the TTP and Lashkar-i-Islam had started consolidating their positions in the valley.

The two groups pose a serious threat to the settled areas especially Peshawar.

The FC media cell had confirmed on Friday that four soldiers were killed and over 14 militants had died in the clashes which have been continuing since then.

Sources have confirmed to Dawn.com that one dead body of an SSG commando and six injured SSG soldiers along with eight other solders were shifted to the CMH Peshawar on Saturday.

Continue reading Pakistan – Tirah valley operation intensifies, 23 soldiers killed

If a Shia, you are on your own

By Ejaz Haider

Let me make it simple: if you are a Shia in Pakistan, you are on your own. This fact I state for the benefit of all those citizens of this country, Shia and Sunni, who are grieving the slow demise of Mr Jinnah’s Pakistan and expecting that the tide could be reversed through state action.

Now for the longer answer.

There is no doubt about who is killing the Shia. The Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) has repeatedly taken responsibility for it. Its captured terrorists have often stated before courts that they have killed Shias and, given the opportunity, will do it again. The identity of the killers is a settled issue.

Nota Bene: The issue of the proxy war between Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iran, the funding to Sunni extremist groups and whatever is left of Shia extremists, and circumstantial evidence of indirect involvement of hostile agencies is important but peripheral to the main issue, i.e., the terrorists are Pakistanis and killing on the basis of centuries-old denominational differences. The current murderous spree, of course, has a modern political and geopolitical context.

A more relevant question is: if the group that is involved in these killings has not only been ID-ed but IDs itself, what is stopping the state from acting against it, and effectively?

This is where the problem begins.

The LeJ was begotten from the dark womb of the Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). The SSP, banned by Pervez Musharraf, has reincarnated itself as the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat. It has a certain political presence. It is technically not the LeJ, even as de facto it is. LeJ terrorists, along with the hardline splinter group of Jaish-e Mohammad (JeM), have over the last five years, come to form the backbone of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) conglomerate. The TTP is an entity that political parties now — the ANP included (in desperation) — want to talk to, even as the state considers the LeJ a terrorist entity.

So while the LeJ is a terrorist organisation providing manpower to the TTP, the state is being pressured to talk to the latter and give it the legitimacy of an insurgent group.

But this is not all. In Punjab, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is in talks over seat adjustment with the ASWJ, the Dr Jekyll to its Edward Hyde, the LeJ. Leaving aside the PML-N’s petty lying about the issue, it is a fact that it wants to placate the LeJ through a dangerous liaison with the ASWJ. The general impression is that this is being done to win votes. That’s only partially true. The primary reason is that the PML-N doesn’t want mayhem in Punjab, its central vote bank, where it wants to win and win big through a lot of development work (even if lopsided) by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

Continue reading If a Shia, you are on your own

TTP talks: Legitimising terror

By: Saher Baloch

The annual report of Human Rights Watch (2013) on Pakistan reads exactly the same as the ones published before it. Only the brutality of those involved in the killings and the apathy of those observing has increased tenfold. Apart from that, the report has nothing ‘positive’ to report from Pakistan.

The reason why there is nothing ‘positive’ in the report reflects the fact that our state continues to move backwards, learning nothing from past mistakes.

If learning was the case, the recent offer of talks by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who have single-handedly ruined thousands of lives in Pakistan, would have been refused by the state immediately.

As it is, we are already in a state of war with the Taliban, who continue to attack children, students, teachers, journalists, minorities, and any one who does not accept or follow their brand of Islam.

To be precise, it is progression and a progressive mindset that the Taliban and likeminded groups are against. I felt it necessary to spell it out because it is important to understand, that militants are against each one of us, including every ideology or sect that they feel threatened from.

In 2012, militants killed around 325 people from the Shia sect, shot a student Malala Yousafzai, apart from torching over a hundred schools in different areas of Pakistan. This is not all, as there are countless other incidents where shrines have been attacked, apart from the ruthless targeting of the Pakistani police. Verve and confidence are not lacking in these people at all, as after every attack that destroys a home, a family or a school, the militants have openly taken responsibility for their actions.

Continue reading TTP talks: Legitimising terror

Jihadi Vs. Jihadi – 32 dead as Taliban clash with rival Islamists in Pakistan

Militant clash in Khyber tribal region kills 32

By: Zahir Shah Sherazi

PESHAWAR: An intense gun-battle erupted between two banned militant groups in Khyber Agency’s Tirah Valley on Friday, with at least 32 militants so far killed in the clash.

Intelligence officials said the gun-battle started late Thursday between the proscribed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and rival group Ansarul Islam (AI) in Tirah Valley’s Maidan village. The dead included 23 Ansar fighters and nine TTP militants, while several others were also injured.

Officials said the death toll was likely to increase as the fighting had not yet ended.

Speaking to a Dawn.com reporter, Sadat Afridi, a spokesman for the banned Ansarul Islam group, claimed that they had captured over three TTP bases in the valley’s Maidan village, and that the fight was still on for a fourth base.

Afridi said that his group has vowed to flush out TTP militants from Tirah Valley as they “carry out attacks on mosques and public places, which is against Islam.”

Afridi said that they would not allow the TTP to continue “killing innocent Muslims in the name of religion.”

Khyber is among Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts near the Afghan border, rife with homegrown insurgents and home to religious extremist organisations including the al Qaeda.

The remote Tirah valley holds strategic significance for militant groups. On one side, it shares a border with Afghanistan. On the other it leads to the plains of Bara, which connect the agency to the outskirts of Peshawar.

Khyber also links several agencies to each other, serving as a north-south route within Fata. The region has been long fought over by a mix of militant organisations, including the TTP, the Ansarul Islam and Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar-i-Islam.

Continue reading Jihadi Vs. Jihadi – 32 dead as Taliban clash with rival Islamists in Pakistan

Senior ANP leader Bashir Bilour martyred

PESHAWAR: Senior Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bashir Ahmed Bilour passed away in Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital after doctors failed to resuscitate him. He was critically injured in a suicide attack in Peshawar, Geo News reported.

The blast also left 9 others dead and 17 injured, sources said.

The attack took place when the Awami National Party’s President for KPK Bashir Ahmed Bilour was exiting the residence of the party’s local leader following a meeting, along with his personal secretary and SHO Kabuli Police Station.

Both the personal secretary Noor Mohammed as well as the SHO, Sattar Khan were killed on the spot while 18 others were injured. According to hospital sources, Bashir Bilour was brought to the hospital in critical condition and was unconscious.

According to eyewitnesses, the suicide bomber detonated the explosives strapped to his body at a close distance from Bashir Bilour, inflicting critical wounds to his chest and stomach that later proved fatal. Bilour had repeatedly termed the fight against terrorism as ‘our own battle’. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Continue reading Senior ANP leader Bashir Bilour martyred

Pakistan – Taliban threat: Nuclear site in DG Khan cordoned off

By Abdul Manan

Sources said, according to precedents, threats intercepted via phone calls often materialised in the next 72 hours.

LAHORE: It could be the first-ever security threat to a nuclear facility in Pakistan, and the Army and security forces are taking no risks.

Following ‘serious’ security threats from the homegrown Taliban, the Army and Punjab police have deployed heavy forces at one of Pakistan’s largest nuclear facilities in Dera Ghazi Khan (DG Khan), credible sources told The Express Tribune.

Besides the deployment inside and around the nuclear installation, three divisions in South Punjab have also been asked to launch a crackdown against banned outfits, sources added.

“DG Khan houses one of the largest nuclear facilities in the country, and has faced the first-ever serious security threat from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” said a high ranking military officer currently serving at the installation.

According to an official who works at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, a key military and civilian fuel cycle site is located 40 kilometres from DG Khan. The site comprises uranium milling and mining operations, and a uranium hexaflouride conversion plant.

‘Serious’ threat

Sources in the military and Punjab Police, on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that the nature of threat at the nuclear installation is ‘serious,’ with an 80% chance of occurrence.

The Inter-Services Intelligence reportedly intercepted a telephone call from the TTP, wherein they were said to have been finalising their strategy for attacks on nuclear installations in DG Khan, sources said.

Three to four vehicles carrying suicide bombers are about to enter DG Khan and can strike the nuclear facilities at any time, the caller concluded according to sources. Sources said that, according to precedents, threats intercepted via phone calls often materialised in the next 72 hours. Direct threats via phone or letters often do not materialise, the source added.

Foiling the attack

DG Khan District Police Officer Chaudhry Saleem confirmed the threat, while talking to The Express Tribune, and said that DG Khan Police has received instructions from the military officer in charge at the nuclear installation to beef up security around the facility as much as possible.

The TTP started to send threats to the installation after the attacks on Kamra air base, Saleem said, adding that the police has established six new pickets around the nuclear installations and deployed heavy forces over the last 24 hours.

Sources said that a heavy contingent of military from the Multan cantonment has also reached the site and beefed up the inner cordon of the security. Military has also been deployed near the border with Balochistan.

Revenge for Qaisrani

Well-placed sources in law enforcement agencies said that when the TTP attacked Kamra air base, they announced that they would take revenge for killing of their South Punjab head Abdul Ghaffar Qaisrani by also attacking nuclear installations in DG Khan.

Sources said the DG Khan Police killed Qaisrani in an encounter in the first week of August, along with eight of his companions, almost clearing his network in the area.The police were able to trace Qaisrani after they interrogated Adnan Khosa, who attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore along with Qaisrani, sources said, adding that Khosa is currently imprisoned in DG Khan.

Qaisrani’s elimination caused a major loss to the TTP in South Punjab, and the militant outfit vowed to take revenge.

Earlier attacks

According to local politicians, the DG Khan nuclear site and adjacent areas had previously been a target of ground attacks by Baloch insurgents, but not the TTP.

Continue reading Pakistan – Taliban threat: Nuclear site in DG Khan cordoned off

Pakistani Taliban threatens attacks on military

By: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Taliban on Monday warned the country’s military it had set up a “suicide bombers squad” to hit troops if an offensive is launched in a restive tribal area bordering Afghanistan.

In an email message sent to media, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella militant group, said it had received “an exclusive intelligence report” about the offensive in North Waziristan from its “sources” in army headquarters.

TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan outlined details about the regiments and units and the possible commander for the campaign, said to be launched on August 26 for one month.

“TTP has also prepared itself for resistance, we have set up a suicide bombers squad to welcome (the) army. We will defeat our enemy, whom is defending secular, unIslamic system of Pakistan by punching them back hard InshaAllah (God willing),” Ehsan said.

Continue reading Pakistani Taliban threatens attacks on military

Those who attacked Kamra were not American, they are from among us

By Raza Rumi

Two days after Pakistan’s powerful army chief made some startling observations in his address to the Pakistan Military Academy, the militants attacked a key strategic installation — the Kamra airbase. That the attack took place on the revered night of 27th of Ramazan is not without symbolism. For the brand of ‘Islam’ practised by the militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) violence precedes other imperatives of faith. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani took a bold public position in his address by saying: “Any person who believes his opinion to be the final verdict, is an extremist…. A human claim to be the final word in judging right from wrong, is tantamount to a claim to divine attributes”. The lethal by-products of our strategic ‘games’ — the TTP — are not amenable to such a worldview. In Kamra, they battled the military for more than five hours. The foreign media highlighted the nebulous connection between the airbase and the country’s nuclear assets; but both the Pakistani and American authorities later affirmed that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was safe.

Continue reading Those who attacked Kamra were not American, they are from among us

Heavily armed jihadi groups clash in Pakistan: 5 killed, 5 injured in clash between rival Islamic militants

5 killed, 5 injured in clash between rival militants groups

Firefight between Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansarul Islam began when latter’s fighters attacked stronghold of LI militants.

PESHAWAR: At least five militants were killed and five others were injured when clashes erupted between Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) and Ansarul Islam (AI) in the Sanda Pal area of Tirah Valley, Khyber Agency.

According to locals, the firefight between the two groups began in the early hours of Monday when fighters of AI attacked Sanda Pal, a stronghold of LI militants.

They claimed that four militants of the Mangal Bagh-led LI had been killed and two were injured, while one fighter of AI was killed and three were injured.

Clashes between the two groups occur frequently as AI fights the LI to gain control of the area.

According to sources, heavy weapons were used in the fight and AI fighters took control of a number of small outposts to reach Sanda Pal – the main outpost.

Residents living in the secluded valley have little communication with the world.

The area has been under the influence of militants, including the LI, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Ansarul Islam, who have consistently targeted each other over territorial disputes and sectarian differences.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

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