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August 20, 2014

48 militants killed in NWA, Bara shelling

Pakistan

WD
Web Desk
August 20, 2014

MIRANSHAH: Amid rumours about the killing of North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur, security officials said they had killed 48 militants in North Waziristan and Khyber tribal regions on Tuesday as the Operation Zarb-e-Azb continued.
There were reports that top Taliban commanders, including Hafiz Gul Bahadur, were present at a house in the Dattakhel area near the Afghan border when they came under attack from fighter jets of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) early Tuesday.
Over a dozen militants were killed and some others injured in the air strikes.Taliban and tribal sources said that helicopter gunships of the Pakistan Army later started shelling people, most of them said to be militants, when they were offering funeral prayers of the slain men in a graveyard in the Madakhel village.
“Most of the people died in shelling by helicopter gunships in the graveyard,” a Taliban source told this correspondent.The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) later issued a brief statement and said 30 militants were killed in shelling by the army helicopter gunships in North Waziristan.
There were rumours that Hafiz Gul Bahadur was killed in the air strikes and the militant leadership and fighters later gathered in Madakhel for his burial.“We have been hearing that Gul Bahadur was present in a house with other militants when the jet fighters hit their hideout in Dattakhel. However, we have no confirmation about his killing in the air strikes,” a security official said.
Pleading anonymity, he said five hideouts of militants were targeted in the Dattakhel area, which is the hometown of Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur.Taliban sources close to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, however, denied his killing in the air strikes and shelling of helicopters.
“Some of his senior commanders died in the air strikes in Dattakhel but he himself is alive. He was present in Dattakhel but was not staying in the house that came under attack from fighter jets,” a Taliban

commander close to Hafiz Gul Bahadur claimed.
Dattakhel is one of the 10 subdivisions of North Waziristan located near the Afghan border.Hafiz Gul Bahadur and his Taliban had signed a peace accord with the government in 2007 and that’s why they were called pro-government. Though the government launched a military offensive on June 15 in North Waziristan against the militants, tribal sources believe that the peace accord is still intact between the government and the Taliban there.
Before the launch of the military offensive, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and his militant commanders had threatened to scrap their peace accord with the government if the operation was launched in North Waziristan. However, when the operation began, the Taliban announced a ceasefire till August 10 and remained calm when the deadline ended.
Taliban sources said that serious differences had emerged between Hafiz Gul Bahadur and a powerful militant commander Aleem Khan. Both of them belong to the Wazir tribe, inhabiting most parts of North Waziristan.
Hafiz Gul Bahadur belongs to Madakhel Wazir clan of Wazir tribe inhabiting the Dattakhel subdivision while commander Aleem Khan hails from the Turikhel Wazir sub-tribe, residing in Dosali, Garyoom and Razmak subdivisions of the tribal region.“Differences between the two Taliban commanders surfaced when Gul Bahadur blamed commander Aleem Khan for saving his villages from the military operation and his Wazir tribesmen from displacement.
“After this, commander Aleem Khan started spreading rumours that he (Aleem Khan) had replaced Gul Bahadur,” a Taliban commander, affiliated with Gul Bahadur, said.
Out of 10 subdivisions, the government has carried out military operation in three subdivisions, including Mir Ali, Miranshah and Boya.
Our Bara correspondent adds: About 15 militants were killed when jet fighters shelled their hideouts in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency on Tuesday, official sources said.The sources said several hideouts were targeted early in the day and were destroyed. However, tribal sources said that four women and a minor boy were killed in shelling by the jet fighters in the Nala village of Malikdinkhel tribe in Bara Tehsil.The sources said that the jet fighters pounded the house of Amirullah Afridi in Nala village in Bara Tehsil in which four women and a minor boy were killed.