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LANDI KOTAL: A 22-year-old army officer was martyred in an attack carried out from across the Afghan border into the Rajgal Valley in Khyber tribal region on Saturday.

According to officials, a group of militants targeted a security check-post situated in Rajgal near the border.

The commanding officer of the post, Lieutenant Ars­lan Alam, was martyred, officials said, adding that three militants were killed in retaliatory firing while another was injured.

The militants, while fleeing the Pakistan Army’s retaliatory action, took the bodies of their associates along. The security forces conducted a search operation in the surrounding areas but by that time the militants had managed to reach their hideouts inside Afghanistan.

The Pakistan Army started Operation Khyber IV in Rajgal and nearby border areas of Afghanistan and in Kurram Agency in July and concluded it in mid-August after clearing the region of various militant groups who had taken refuge in the forested mountainous region of the Tirah Valley.

They established check-posts in the treacherous heights of Sattar Kalay and Kharulai Kandaw near Kurram and the Brekh Muhammad, Kachkol, Barragat, Zarigat, Ghwakhi Kandaw and Sapary areas near the Afghan border.

Several districts of Nangarhar province of Afghanistan share border with the areas where the Operation Khyber IV was conducted.

During the operation, the army claimed to have killed at least 13 militants. They also claimed to have destroyed many of the militant hideouts alongside seizing huge quantities of arms before taking complete control of the Rajgal Valley.

The Khyber Agency political administration only recently sent a jirga of Kukikhel elders — along with officials of different line departments — to ascertain possibilities of starting development projects in the area and later devising a plan for the return of the displaced Kukikhel families numbering around 12,000.

Funeral held

Funeral prayers for Lt Arsalan Alam were offered at Peshawar Garrison.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor, Peshawar Corps Commander, military and civilian officials and relatives of the martyred officer attended the funeral.The father of the martyred soldier — who was his parents only son along with three sisters — was present at the funeral funerals.

Lt Alam will be laid to rest in his native town with full military honours.

Agencies add: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expressed grief over the loss of Lt Alam’s life and said the war against terrorism was in fact a war of the country’s existence as a sovereign nation.

In a statement issued by the PM Office, he said: “Our valiant forces have inflicted huge damage upon terrorist elements but at the same time have rendered huge sacrifices in doing so. Each drop of blood of our heroes is a testament to the fact that we all are united as a nation to cleanse our beloved motherland from terrorist elements.”

He said the cowardly attacks on law-enforcement agencies could not slow down the country’s resolve to continue with anti-terrorism operations.

He prayed for peace of the departed soul and expressed sympathies with the bereaved family of the martyred officer.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2017