PESHAWAR, March 10: A bloody clash between members of local Taliban and foreign militants was averted in Mirali area of North Waziristan on Saturday but shopkeepers shut down their shops and ran for safety after sensing an impending clash between rival fighters.

Members of local Taliban led by commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur and foreign militants led by an Iraqi national Abu Okash were about to pick a fight over the issue of removal of tinted glasses, but the bloodshed was averted after the intervention of militant commander Baitullah Mehsud.

Gun-brandishing supporters of Gul Bahadur were adamant to remove tinted glasses from vehicles of foreign militants, but Abu Okash’s followers vehemently opposed the action.

The issue has become a bone of contention between local Taliban members and foreign militants. Members of local Taliban want all foreign militants living in the area to remove tinted glasses from their vehicles but the foreign militants are not ready to do this.

Local militants, who had reached a peace agreement with the government last year, launched a drive to remove tinted glasses from all vehicles in Miramshah and Mirali towns following a suicide attack on a military convoy on Jan 22 last and surge in crimes in the area.

Informed sources said that the campaign against tinted glasses was under way in Miramshah. However, the local Taliban were trying to expand the campaign to Mirali, which was a stronghold of foreign militants.

On Saturday, witnesses said armed supporters of Hafiz Gul Bahadur had tried to force foreigners to remove tinted glasses, but they defied the order.

Armed supporters of the two militant groups took positions on hilltops causing panic among the people and the shopkeepers in the town.

Sources said that militant commander in South Waziristan Baitullah Mehsud intervened and calmed both sides not to clash with each other on the issue.

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