LANDI KOTAL: Anticipating a military operation in their areas in Tirah valley, hundreds of Akkakhel families have started leaving their homes, according to sources.

Sources said that more than 500 families left their home in Dars Jumaat, Shaddaly, Darota and Kulla areas of Akkakhel in Tirah valley during the last three days.

Conceding the evacuation of Akkakhel families, officials of the political administration said that a team headed by the political tehsildar of Tirah, Shamsur Rehman, was sent to Orakzai Agency to facilitate the fleeing families by providing them transport, food and health facilities after their registration with the Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA).

Officials said that a registration desk was established at Jalako Mela in Orakzai Agency from where the displaced families would be relocated to Togh Sarai camp near Hangu where some 1,200 families from Upper Orakzai were currently residing.

The political administration Orakzai Agency on its part has vacated a number of government schools to provide immediate accommodation to the Akkakhel IDPs.

Officials said that a number of health teams were also stationed at Jalako Mela to vaccinate the displaced children against polio and provide health facilities to the ailing women and elderly people.

Officials said that no official announcement was made about the start of any military operation in Akkakhel nor had the administration or security forces forced the local people to leave their homes.

However, they acknowledged that security forces had taken positions on all the hilltops overlooking the Akkakhel areas where they believed militants had established their hideouts during the past few months. “It was due to heavy presence and movement of the security forces that the local residents started vacating their houses in haste,” officials said.

According to sources, security forces have established contacts with at least two local militant commanders -- Lal Ghani and Rashid -- to persuade them to lay down arms and avoid putting up any resistance if the forces started any operation in the area. However, outcome of the contacts between security forces and militant commanders could not be known.

Published in Dawn, October 15th , 2014

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