Militants break through police siege

Published January 22, 2008

MARDAN, Jan 21: Police and militants fought a pitched battle for several hours outside the city here on Sunday.

And much to the embarrassment of the police, the militants managed to break through their siege and escape, leaving behind their arms and ammunition, including rockets, anti-personnel mines and hand-grenades.

According to an administration official, the encounter took place after police surrounded a mud-house in Khan Malik Koty in Sawal Dher union council. The house had been rented by militants who had escaped from Swat.

Militants from Swabi and Jehangira districts were also said to have frequented the place, he said.

The militants used rockets and machine-guns to keep the police away from their positions.

A CID team from Peshawar was sent to the area along with an armoured personnel carrier which also took part in the action.

The exchange of firing, according to the official, lasted till 2am.

“What surprised me most was that militants had broken through the security cordon,” he said. “We have no idea how this happened,” an official said.

The official said that paramilitary and military personnel were standing by and could have been called in to flush out the militants, whose number was said to be between 30 and 40. “The whole night I contemplated how to deal with the situation if the militants were caught or killed and its effects on Mardan. But what I heard in the morning totally baffled me. I was told that all the militants had escaped,” district Nazim Himayatullah Mayar said.

Police later claimed arresting one of the suspects but not from the same area.

The areas of Bakhshali, Choora, Shahbaz Garhi, Katlang, Jabbar and Rustam have come under recurring rocket attacks over the past six months.

Last week two rockets were fired on the city, one of which hit the house of Azam Khan, a PML-Q candidate running from PF-30, and the other had hit the house of a local ANP leader.

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