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January 27, 2013

40 killed in Khyber Agency fighting

January 27, 2013

BARA: At least 40 persons were killed in clashes between the Tirah-based banned organisation Ansarul Islam (AI) and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and shelling of warplanes on the positions of the latter on Friday, tribal sources said on Saturday.
The sources said the clashes erupted between the two militant organisations early on Friday morning when dozens of TTP militants armed with mortars and rockets launched an attack on the positions of the AI west and north of Maidan from Arghenjo in the Orakzai Agency and Kukikhel area in Tirah valley.
After a brief fight, the TTP captured three hilltops from the Kukikhel side, namely Kalawooch, Angori Sar and Drey Stani, and two positions from the Arghenjo side named Qismat Sangar and Sengakh Sar in the AI-controlled part of the valley, the sources said.
Soon after the attack by the TTP, the head of the AI Qazi Mehboob informed his supporters through his FM broadcast about the situation and asked them to rush towards the losing positions to retake them from the enemy. Subsequently, hundreds of armed volunteers and local tribesmen assembled in Bagh, the AI headquarters, and marched towards the west and north and launched an attack on the TTP occupying positions on their area called Maidan.
After an eight-hour-long fight, the AI recaptured Stani Sar, Kalawooch, Angori Sar and Qismat Sangar, the sources said.
However, the AI failed to recapture Sengakh Sar bordering Orakzai Agency and had laid siege to it till the filing of this report.
At least nine TTP fighters and 13 AI men were killed and around two dozen militants were injured in the crossfire. Some of the dead of AI were identified as Irfan Khan Said, Abdul Jalal, Noor Habib, Wasal, Sifat Khan, Nek Naam and Noor Rehman. The sources said a mortar shell hit the house of Qari Abdul Shakoor in the Baromi area close to Kalawooch Sangar, killing his brother and a guest named Samiullah.
In the same area, the wife of Gilaas Khan was killed and two

girls injured when a mortar shell fell on their house. A commander of AI Kaptaan Khan confirmed the death of his eight associates and claimed that they had 15 bodies of the TTP in their custody.
He said they had arrested 10 militants from the rival group and some of them were identified as the members of the Tariq Afridi group, a faction in TTP.
According to sources, six of the captured TTP men were later executed publicly in Bagh Bazaar.
Kaptaan added that three of their vehicles had been torched by the TTP in Drey Thangey in Kurram Agency. However, another commander of the AI confirmed that 13 of their volunteers had been killed, which included three from Qambarkhel, five from Malikdinkhel and five from Kukikhel.
Wishing not to be named, he said they had six headless bodies of TTP fighters in their possession. Despite several attempts, the stance of the TTP on the fighting could not be known due to lack of communication and inaccessibility.
On Friday evening, while addressing on his FM radio, AI chief Qazi Mehboob declared jihad against the TTP and threatened to chase the outlawed group in the Khyber and Orakzai agencies.
Surprisingly, he even said the AI would stand by its arch-rival the Mangal Bagh-led banned Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) in case the TTP attacked it.
Meanwhile, jet fighters bombarded suspected positions of the TTP in the Kukikhel area of Tirah valley on Friday night, reportedly killing nine people including six militants.
Three innocent persons, named Anaar Baig, his son and wife, were killed when their house was pounded by warplanes in the Maniakhel area of the valley, the sources said.
Two mosques and a private school were also destroyed in Wochewani and Sorkas villages in the Kukikhel area in the air strikes, local sources said.

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