LAKKI MARWAT, March 4: Four militants and a villager were killed in a gunbattle which erupted in the Khankhel (Tajori) area on Tuesday after the kidnapping of a union council nazim and his two friends.

Two of the militants were Uzbek nationals and two tribal Wazirs, Lakki Marwat DPO Romail Akram told Dawn, adding that an Uzbek militant had been taken into custody.

Bakhmal Union Council Nazim Malik Mohammad Idrees Khan and friends Musawwir Gul and Hayatullah were coming to Serai Gambila when five armed militants intercepted their car near Manzar Faqeer area and whisked them away,” DSP Umar Faraz Khattak told Dawn.

After the kidnapping, the personnel of law-enforcement agencies were alerted and all roads leading to the tribal region of Janikhel Wazir were closed.

People of nearby villages formed a Lashkar of armed volunteers to secure the release of the Nazim and his friends.

The DSP said that a heavy contingent of police and Frontier Constabulary personnel were sent to the area to ensure that the kidnapped people were not taken to the tribal belt.

The armed volunteers, sources said, surrounded the militants at a place near Khankhel, held talks with them and got the nazim and his friends freed.

However, the villagers refused the militants’ demand for a safe passage. This led to an exchange of fire in which the villagers were backed by law-enforcement personnel.

“The militants took shelter in a cave locally known as Kuri and the exchange of fire continued for several hours,” the sources said, adding that several explosions were heard and the clash left four militants and villager Dilawar Khan dead.

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