AN operation planned against militants in areas near the Mohmand tribal agency was delayed for a few days on Thursday reportedly at the intervention of the agency’s political administration.

An official said that about 200 law-enforcement personnel with heavy weapons and backed by armoured personnel carriers (APCs) had entered the area in the morning, but at the request of the administration they gave the local Taliban a deadline till 11am to surrender or face action.

He said the action would be taken if the Taliban did not surrender after negotiations with the political administration.

The militants are reported to have taken positions on the mountains near the Mathra area of the agency and carried out some activities in areas north of the provincial capital.

While the forces have brought the situation in the Khyber tribal region under control, they have yet to secure areas close to the Mohmand Agency in the north and those in close vicinity of the Darra Adamkhel region in the south of Peshawar.

Meanwhile, police claimed to have arrested 66 suspected militants during an operation in Peshawar and seized a large quantity of arms and ammunition.

Addressing a press conference, SP Cantonment Circle Imran Shahid said a truck coming to Peshawar from the tribal areas was stopped in the Pishtakhara area for routine check. They found 31 Kalashnikovs, 29 short-guns, 103 pistols, 300 magazines, six Kalakovs and 75,000 cartridges in the vehicle.

The driver told police that the weapons were being taken to Punjab. Peshawar city police chief Mohammad Suliman said the security had been beefed up after the Khyber operation and there was no threat to Peshawar.

In a related development, a 16-member jirga left for Tirah Valley on Thursday for talks with Lashkar-i-Islam chief Mangal Bagh.

Before leaving for Tirah, the jirga members called on the assistant political agent of Bara sub-division, Khalid Mumtaz Kundi. The administration is reported to have rejected a request of the jirga to suspend the operation till the completion of talks with the militant leader.

The Bara town and adjoining areas remained tense although the curfew there was relaxed on Thursday. Paramilitary forces and Levies are jointly patrolling the area.

Sources said the jirga would put forward three conditions to Mangal Bagh on behalf of the political administration. The administration wants Mangal Bagh to dismantle his private militia, accept government’s writ and surrender, along with members of his Lashkar-i-Islam, to the administration.

The sources said security forces patrolled the Bara sub-division but did not attack militants’ hideouts.

Officials said that 92 people, including 18 Lashkar-i-Islam activists, had been arrested during the operation.

At least 55 militants arrested from different areas of the Khyber Agency have been shifted to the central jail in Haripur. Jail sources said the detained militants belonged to the Lashkar-i-Islam and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.

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