DARRA ADAMKHEL/KOHAT, Aug 8: Local Taliban militants captured a village in Darra Adamkhel Frontier Region on Wednesday when rival tribesmen surrendered to them after clashes which left five people dead and about 10 others injured, sources said.
Witnesses said that after capturing the Chargano village the Taliban militants were seen looting houses of tribesmen belonging to Qasimkhel. They have also started a house-to-house search for their rivals in the town.
“Families fled their homes and militants brought pick-up trucks and tractor trolleys, taking away everything, including home appliances and weapons,” said a tribesman.
After taking control of the village, a local commander of the militants driving a Land Cruiser, appeared in the main Darra Bazaar and announced that the area had been cleared of “criminals.”
“Criminals have been eliminated and Mujahideen have restored peace”, the self-declared commander of the militants covering his face, told tribesmen who had assembled at the bazaar. Some terrified tribesmen chanted slogans “God is Great” and “Long Live Mujahideen.”
Witnesses said that the militants seized 20 cars from the den of an alleged criminal who was killed in the town on Monday last, and the house was burnt.
The Indus Highway linking Afghanistan with Karachi via Peshawar remained closed for traffic for more than 24 hours due to heavy gunfire in the area. The highway passes through Darra Adamkhel town, situated some 35 kilometres from Peshawar. Long queues of loaded trailers were seen parked on the highway.
With the fall of the village, militants carrying heavy weapons started patrolling the town to show their might.
Security forces distanced themselves from the conflict and residents remained at the mercy of the armed groups. Movement of the masked militants was witnessed in the town, which is at a stone’s throw from the provincial capital.
“The government has lost its writ and the town is virtually governed by the militants,” said a tribesman.
A senior official in Peshawar said that paramilitary forces were ready to quell clashes. He said that forces were ordered to use artillery to dislodge militants from their positions, but in the meantime their rival tribesmen gave up resistance.
Residents said that five bodies were recovered from the embattled area when militants took control of the Chargano village. They said that some 20 families of the Qasimkhel tribe surrendered themselves to the militants after 35-hour-long heavy gun fight between the two sides. Both sides targeted each other’s positions with rockets and heavy machine-guns.
On Wednesday morning a jirga comprising elders of the Frontier Region failed to effect a ceasefire when they cam under fire. The jirga members gave up their efforts, said an official.
A mortar shell hit a house in Manikhel area, wounding six people while one child suffered injuries when a shell struck a compound in Bazikhel village. Locals said that search for the dead and wounded was continuing in the area and the number of casualties could mount.
Clashes erupted in the area when Taliban militants besieged the village.