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Deployment of army sought in Tirah

March 17, 2013

PESHAWAR, March 16: The tribesmen have expressed grave concern over the killings of innocent people in frequent clashes between two banned armed groups in Khyber Agency and demanded of the government to swiftly deploy security forces in the area to control the situation and save lives of the residents.

Speaking at a press conference in Peshawar Press Club on Saturday, known lawyer Abdul Lateef Afridi said that Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Ansaarul Islam (AI) workers had been attacking each others with heavy weapons in Tirah valley, which was also resulting in loss of lives of innocent people.

Flanked by other tribal lawyers, including Ijaz Mohmand, Raza Khan Safi and Samiullah Afridi, he said that the armed clashes had claimed lives of many innocent people, including women, children and senior citizens, and now the residents had the only option to vacate their houses and shift to safer places.

The senior lawyer said that the AI activists had repulsed the TTP attacks and blocked the way of its men for the time being and if the government did not take immediate action then it (TTP) could take control of the entire Khyber Agency and also create problems for people in Peshawar.

He said that in the current situation deployment of armed forces was the most viable option to restore peace and provide protection to the life and property of local people of the valley.

Accompanied by several elders of the tribal region, Mr Afridi said that militants had set on fire over 20 houses and killed scores of people. He said that the situation was deteriorating with violence spreading to Malik Dinkhel and other parts of the agency. He expressed fear that if timely action was not taken, the violence in Tirah valley could have serious impact on security situation in Peshawar.

Mr Afridi said that the security forces should take control of the valley to avoid spread of the violence to other parts of the tribal region besides settled areas.

He said that the current law and order situation could force around 1.5 million population of the valley to migrate from their hometown. “We don’t want to create any unrest by carrying out protest demonstrations, but the ultimate solution could be retaliation by the security forces to end violence in the valley,” Mr Afridi said.

Meanwhile, Ansaarul Islam spokesman Saadat Afridi accused the TTP of killing innocent people in Tirah valley and claimed that it could restore peace within few days if the government allowed it. He was speaking at a press conference in Peshawar Press Club on Saturday. The AI spokesman said that his group was supporting the local people, while the Taliban were involved in killing of innocent people.

“We have captured majority of the heights and repulsed Taliban and have the potential to clear the entire Tirah valley if the government allowed us to do so,” Saadat Afridi claimed and added that local people were also supporting his group against the TTP.

Flanked by commanders, including Mohammad Shafiq, the AI spokesman said that over 175 people were killed and nearly 375 injured in the conflict during last one and a half months. He said that that the AI was not in favour of army’s deployment in the area as it alone could clear the area of the anti-state elements.