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September 10, 2019

Return of local Taliban in Buner

National

September 10, 2019

PESHAWAR: The sessions judge and judicial magistrate in Buner district are among the several people who have received letters from the local Taliban militants threatening them with dire consequences if they didn’t mend their ways.

Sources in Buner said police officials, politicians and lawyers have also received such letters. Others too have reportedly got the hand-written letters in Pashto, but they have kept quiet about it.

Sardar Hussain Babak, the MPA from Buner belonging to the Awami National Party (ANP), was the first to highlight the issue when he received a letter from the local Taliban. He said he will raise the matter with his party leaders. He also wanted the government, particularly the security organizations, to tackle the emerging threat being posed by the militants.

Subsequently, the police became active and started search operations in the area. The army too sent units to hunt down the militants. However, the local people said none of the militants has yet been apprehended or killed. One person who was killed in the Elum Ghar mountainous area about two weeks ago and was initially portrayed as a militant was reportedly a shepherd. Sighting of the militants has been reported in parts of Buner. Locals have claimed the militants were seen in the Pir Baba, Kalail and Kingar Galli areas. Some reported that militants on occasions have come down on roads and stopped vehicles to check passengers.

Police officials believe the number of Taliban militants operating in Buner is seven to 12 only. They said the militants are based in the Elum Ghar area where the forested mountain and caves provided a perfect sanctuary.

The letters in Pashto are sent by either Commander Azizur Rahman, known to be an old militant, or simply by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Buner or Tehrik-i-Taliban Malakand division. Most letters are identical, accusing the recipients that they were part of the “Kufri” (infidel) system of government and it is time they quit their jobs and work to save their lives. The letters often warn it is the last chance for them as the local Taliban militants have resumed their operations and would target the recipients if they failed to heed the warning.

One of the judges who received the letter was fired at by suspected militants in July last year in Swat. He survived the attack.

The letters to the judges were brazenly delivered at the District Courts in Buner or at their homes. There were also reports that the militants had demanded extortion money from well-to-do people in Buner. The people had to pay out of fear that they would be targetted by the militants.