GHALANAI, July 30: Militants who had occupied a mosque and a shrine in the Lakaro area of the Mohmand Agency on Saturday night said on Monday that they were ready for talks with the government and elders of the area.

The self-proclaimed chief of the group, who introduced himself as Umar Khalid, told journalists that they would not impose sharia by force and would appeal to people to give up un-Islamic practices.

They warned of tit-for-tat response if the government took any action to dislodge them from the mosque.

“We will continue Ghazi Abdur Rashid’s mission even if it means sacrificing our lives,” said Umar Khalid.

Brandishing an AK-47 rifle, he said that owning a gun was a matter of honour, adding that it had been snatched from German troops in Afghanistan.

The militants wearing masks moved around waving rocket-launchers and long-range machine guns.Umar Khalid denied having links with Al Qaeda and Taliban, but said his people could not distance themselves from them. “If they (Taliban) come to us, we will welcome them,” he said. He claimed his group had more than 3,000 trained people who were ready to sacrifice their lives.

PPI adds: A grand tribal jirga in Mohammad Agency will assemble on Tuesday to discuss the situation arose after the occupation of Turangzai Babaji mosque by militants.

According to Mohmmand Agency political agent Said Ahmad, the jirga would be held in Ghalani.

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