Action against Taliban sought

May 20, 2007

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BANNU/LAKKI MARWAT, May 19: After the failure of police to control activities of the local Taliban, 15 tribes in Bannu on Saturday gave the government three days to take action against militants. They said if no action was taken they would form their own security mechanism.

Shortly after the tribes announced the deadline, police in the adjoining Lakki Marwat district claimed that a local Taliban commander, Qari Sarfaraz, had been arrested near the Manjiwala chowk on the Indus Highway. The arrested militant was taken to some unknown place for interrogation.

Elders of the 15 tribes in the Kakki area, adjoining the tribal belt of Bannu Frontier Region, warned of establishing checkpoints in markets and on different roads for checking activities of militants.

Eyewitnesses said that at a protest meeting, attended by over 1,000 members of the local tribes in the hometown of NWFP Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani, it was decided to raise an armed Lashkar having 10 members from each tribe to counter the local Taliban.

Speaking at the meeting, Malik Munawar Khan, Malik Sher Khan, Hayatullah Khan and others regretted that their repeated requests to the district administration and police for action against the Taliban were ignored and the militants continued roaming around and patrolling local markets, which caused harassment.

“Police have turned a blind eye towards the Taliban who visited the Kakki bazaar yesterday,” said a tribal elder, adding that the tribesmen knew how to defend themselves against the threat posed by the local Taliban.

Some protesters also tried to block the road, but the elders persuaded them not to take any such step before the expiry of the deadline given to the government.

In Lakki Marwat, official sources said a group of Taliban, led by Qari Sarfraz, riding in a Land Cruiser jeep had issued threats and aimed their weapons at a patrolling police party of the Dadiwala police near the Kurrum Bridge on the Indus Highway late Friday night. They said the police party had signalled the jeep to stop for checking, but it had not.

On directives of higher police authorities, police and FC personnel backed by armoured personnel carriers chased the Taliban and found that they were sheltering in the “hujra” of Maulana Amjad Hussain in Landiwah. When police reached the hujra, the militants had left the place leaving behind their vehicle, which was seized by police.

On Saturday morning, police set up barricades on different roads and the Indus Highway at different points and stopped a passenger pickup near the Manjiwala chowk. Taliban commander Qari Sarfraz, belonging to Giankhel tribe of Afghanistan, stepped down from the vehicles and tried to fire on the police party but he was overpowered by police.