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June 4, 2011

Reinforcements sent to Dir village amid fresh clashes


June 4, 2011


DIR: Amid fresh clashes and exchange of fire, Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps troops were sent to the border area in Upper Dir where the militants attacked a Pakistani post on Wednesday and Thursday and killed 27 personnel of the security forces, official sources and local residents told The News.
An unspecified number of militants Friday attacked Shateez area, close to previous attack site, but there was no word on casualties and damages. Locals and official sources said the attack was again launched from across the border, but it was repulsed. “Yes, exchange of fire continued on Friday but the militants couldn’t come on this side of the border,” an officials source said, requesting anonymity. “They were firing from across the border,” he added.
Pakistan protested to Afghanistan over the attack that killed 27 personnel of the security forces in Shaltalo village. Official sources had alleged the attack was launched from militants’ sanctuaries in Kunar province of Afghanistan.
The issue of deadly attack was also taken up with the US, which invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and since then its forces, along with those of its allies from the International Security Assistance Forces, have been fighting Taliban.
In August last year, Taliban based in Nuristan province of Afghanistan kidnapped 10 people who belonged to Dhoog Darra area where locals routed Taliban in 2009 and slaughtered three of them.
In recent months, the US that claimed that its war against Taliban in Afghanistan had shown progress but Taliban attacks have spiked in the country. After the Taliban dismantled the Pakistani security post and killed 27 security forces’ personnel in Shaltalo, the border along Upper Dir district was rendered undefended.
However, an “adequate number” of army and Frontier Corps troops were dispatched to the area to re-establish hold in the region. “Army and Frontier Corps troops have been sent to the border, but I cannot state their number.

They are in adequate number,” said an official aware of the unfolding events after attack.
Locals corroborated the fresh deployment of troops on the border in Upper Dir. They said “heavy number of forces” had been seen moving to the border. The post in Shaltalo was manned by police and Levies personnel, who are not trained for defending borders.
Some of the police officials who were taken into the force a couple of years ago under “community police” recruiting policy were not trained even for policing, officials and family members of the slain police officials said.
A jirga in Wari, the second largest town of Upper Dir, told Deputy Inspector General of Police, Malakand Range, Qazi Jameel Rehman that police and Levies should not be given responsibility of defending border. They said it was the duty of armed forces and they should be on the frontline.
Meanwhile, search operation was conducted in and around Shaltalo village, local and official sources said. “No arrests have been made,” an official said.
Villagers have taken up arms and taken positions in the area. Those who manned positions said they had repelled the fresh attack. “Taliban militants who were around 30-40 again crossed into our side of the border and launched the attack, but we retaliated and forced them to retreat,” said a member of the armed villagers, who did not prefer to be named.
Police officials said tension persisted in the area. People feared fresh attacks from the militants. Gunship helicopters shelled suspected positions of the Taliban in the border region. “There must have been losses to the militants, but we don’t have details,” the official said.
Local residents said three gunship helicopters pounded Shateez and Nusrat Darra areas on Friday but they had no word about casualties. About information regarding the establishment of a new post, official sources said the post had not been built but would soon be set up. Police officials said tension persisted in the area and people feared fresh attacks from the militants.




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