LANDI KOTAL: The Ansaarul Islam militant group, perceived to be a pro-government outfit, gained some ground against Taliban on Sunday on the third day of fighting between them in the mountainous Tirah region bordering Afghanistan.
According to information obtained from independent sources in the region, another two Ansaar men were killed as a fierce gun battle continued in Adamkhel, which is situated in an area adjoining Khyber and Orakzai Agencies where the Tariq Afridi group of Taliban has established its control and expelled the AI from one of their bases.
The Taliban are also reported to be entrenched in a bunker in Bucha which they had seized on the first day of the clashes.
Sources said capturing Bucha was important for the Taliban as it was adjacent to their Dwa Thoe stronghold which they had occupied in May last year after expelling Kukikhel tribesmen.
But the Ansaars are reported to have regained bunkers in Angori, Haider Kandaw, Kala Vooch, Dray Stany and Bhutan Sharif over the past two days.
It is learnt that both sides are using heavy weapons. A number of houses in the area have been damaged.
According to sources the Taliban torched three vehicles carrying food and other supplies to Bagh, an AI stronghold.
Though the Taliban have not yet said anything about the fighting, another militant group -- Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) -- has said they are not involved in the clashes.
In the past there have been fierce clashes between the LI and the Ansaars in which hundreds of militants from both sides were killed.
Karwan, local commander of the LI, told reporters that they could support their former foes against Taliban if they were requested to do so.
He rejected official reports that the LI was backing Taliban and said that so far they had remained neutral.
It is learnt that Kukikhel tribe has sent some armed volunteers to Tirah to join the AI in its fight against the Taliban.
Meanwhile, security forces demolished an LI base in Qaziabad area of Bara on Saturday evening. According to officials heavy artillery pounded the base after it had been vacated by militants. Security forces also torched a vehicle parked in the base.
They ordered people to leave their houses in Al Haj market and carried out a search in the Alamgudar area.
AFP adds: Violence erupted in Tirah valley three days ago after the Taliban captured a building belonging to the AI.
“The AI re-took their centre after intense fighting, which… has so far killed 30 to 40 militants on both sides,” a senior local administration official said.
He said the AI is led by Munsif Khan and opposes the home-grown militia LI who frequently clash with troops.