Tribals to support Pak Army against Taliban

A grand jirga or council of tribal elders recently convened in Kurram Agency had called for the operation against the militants.

Updated: Jun 30, 2011, 22:27 PM IST

Islamabad: Elders in a restive tribal
region in northwest Pakistan will support the Army in
launching an operation against Taliban militants, a top
military commander said on Thursday.

Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik, the commander of the army`s
Peshawar Corps who supervises operations in the tribal
regions, told reporters in the northwestern city that the
operation in Kurrum Agency was being launched on the demand
and with the consent of tribal elders.

A grand jirga or council of tribal elders recently
convened in Kurram Agency had called for the operation against
the militants.

Other officials said the security forces will conduct
operation in the central parts of Kurram Agency to eliminate
and expel militants who launch attacks on security forces and
block roads.

Authorities have also set up a camp for people who may
be displaced as a result of the operation.

Officials said around 250 families had already been
moved out of central Kurram Agency to avoid casualties in the
conflict zone.

The decision to launch the operation was taken after a
recent attack by militants on a security check post that
killed a soldier and injured several others.

Security officials said the militants entered Kurram
Agency from Afghanistan`s Khost province.

The situation in Kurram Agency has been affected by
sectarian clashes between Shias and Sunnis over the past three
years.

Scores of people have died in fighting between the
rival tribesmen.

Pakistani Taliban fighters who infiltrated the region
have been backing the Sunnis.

Militants have cut off pockets with Shia populations
from the rest of northwest Pakistan by blocking key roads.

The Haqqani network helped broker a truce between the
Shias and Sunnis earlier this year but the ceasefire was
violated by militants within days.

On Monday, a key commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban
Pakistan in Kurram Agency announced that he was parting ways
with the group`s leadership to protest its policies of
carrying out suicide bombings and attacking civilians.

Fazal Saeed Haqqani, the former TTP commander, formed
his own group called the Tehrik-e-Taliban Islami and announced
his fighters will not attack Pakistani forces.

In a related development, Lt Gen Malik said another
operation launched three months ago against militants in
Mohmand tribal region, bordering Afghanistan, had entered its
final stage and most have in that region had been cleared of
rebels.

He said a total of 68 security personnel were killed
and 300 injured during the fighting in Mohmand Agency.

Nearly 200 militants were also killed, he added.
The army`s operational commander for Mohmand Agency,
Brig Aftab, said 40 militants were killed in the region in the
last few days.

PTI