LANDI KOTAL, June 8: Hundreds of families were forced to flee when Taliban launched a fresh offensive against Kukikhel tribe in Tirah valley of Khyber Agency on Friday.

Sources said that about 500 families, belonging to Maniya Khel and Sra Vela localities of Tirah, reached Ghundi village of Jamrud while around 300 more temporarily settled down in Ali Masjid area.

Saifullah, a resident of Maniya Khel, told Dawn that they left behind every thing as they were forced to flee their houses.

“Taliban came in a large number. They were heavily armed,” he said. He added that Kukikhel volunteers could not offer any resistance as they had exhausted all their ammunition and also vacated most of their bunkers.

Saifullah said that Taliban were also supported by Ansarul Islam, a local militant group headed by Mulana Mehboobul Haq. He alleged that the local militant group was affiliated with Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl.

Noor Zahir, another Kukikhel volunteer, also said that his tribe, which had earlier vowed to expel Taliban from their soil at any cost, lost most of their areas to Taliban fighters of Tariq Afridi group.

He said that Taliban started consolidating their position in the areas, which the Kukikehl volunteers vacated after the offensive was launched.

“Taliban occupied our houses and seized most of our belongings including household items, cattle and stocks of edibles, which we use to keep for winter,” he said.

Mr Zahir said that poppy crop cultivated on hundreds of acres of land was also left behind. He said that poppy was one of the major crops on which most of the Kukikhel families relied.

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