[If the Army, the Army’s Lashkars and the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are all fighting against Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar e-Islam, does that imply that, when it gets down to it, they are all on the same side?]
[Lashkar-i-Islam is a creation of the intelligence agencies. It is only fitting that they are now waging war against the Pak Army (SEE: Waging War Upon Ourselves)
Before his promotion to terrorist overlord of Bara, and potentially, all of Khyber, Mangal Bagh was a mere bus driver. The Lashkar-i-Islam he commands began as a self-imposed religious police, brutally enforcing a warped Wahabbi version of Shariah Law that had been brought into Bara by a religious-terrorist named Haji Namdar, who had been brought in after finishing ten years of religious indoctrination in Saudi Arabia. Namdar had created the precursor to Lashkar-i-Islam, called "Tanzim Amr bil Maroof wa Nehi Anil Munkir" (the Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue). Lashkar was actually formed by his successor, a radical preacher Mufti Munir Shakir, whom Namdar had brought in for reinforcement. When the feud which Shakir had started with local Berelvi leader, Pir Saifur Rahman (over Shakir’s "Radio Mullah" broadcasts) started looking like a religious war, the authorities stepped in and deported the radical Mufti from the war zone. At that point, Shakir’s "Army of Islam" was turned over to Mangal Bagh. Today, the TTP are waging a campaign of terror against the Lashkar and Mangal’s forces are eagerly reciprocating. That forces the Army to step-in between the two warring factions, causing heavier casualties to all parties involved.
There is no hope at all for Pakistan, until messes like this one are cleared-up. Don’t forget to thank the Saudis and the CIA for every bomb blast in Khyber.]
Five killed in separate incidents in Bara; three handcuffed bodies found.
Three alleged activists of the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) extremist groups were publicly executed by the Zakhakhel peace committee in the Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency on Saturday.
The local Aman Lashkar publicly shot dead three alleged LI men – Aqal Zareen, Yaqub and another man, whose name could not be ascertained, accusing them for violence in the region.
The Lashkar also arrested three other alleged LI men, one of whom was identified as Jumma Khan, from the Zakhakhel tribe.
Separately suspected militants set off an improvised explosive device in the Mandikas area, killing the wives of two brothers – Yaras Khan and Sherullah – and injuring as many people from the same family.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a senior political administration official said that such blasts occur in every military operation.
Three bodies found
Meanwhile, local sources told The Express Tribune that amid the ongoing military operation, three unidentified handcuffed bodies were found on Saturday in the Yousaf Talab area populated by the Sipah tribe in Bara.
They said the law and order situation in the area has again taken a turn for the worse during the last two weeks and people mostly stay indoors.
Residents complain about problems
Several residents have complained about the collateral damage in the military operation and other problems.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Muhammad Saleem claimed that nearly 80% of the local population had evacuated the area while the rest were either restricted, or they lack the resources to move to other areas.
Misal Khan, a principal at a private school in the Akakhel area, said that the authorities should provide an opportunity to locals to shift their families to Peshawar and surrounding areas.
Senator Haji Khan Afridi, hailing from Bara, said that the local population is suffering badly. He demanded relaxation in curfew timings to let the locals evacuate from the area.
He also complained that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governor and the concerned corps commander did not consult the local elected representatives before launching the operation in the area.
Published in The Express Tribune
BARA: Villagers found 13 bullet-ridden bodies scattered around the Bara area of the northwestern Khyber tribal region near the Afghanistan border on Sunday, as Pakistani security forces step up military offensives against militants.
Sunday’s discovery was made just two days after 12 more bodies, also bearing signs of torture and numerous bullet-wounds, were discovered in the same area, 15 km south of Peshawar.
“They were taken into custody by the paramilitary Frontier Corps a few days back from Sepah area after unknown people attacked the FC post and killed four soldiers,” a local tribesman told Reuters, requesting anonymity because he feared for his safety.
No one has acknowledged any connection with the deaths.
An official for the Frontier Corps (FC), which has taken the lead against militants in the Khyber agency, said he knew nothing about the bodies and that the men were never in the custody of the FC.
“It is possible they have been killed earlier during the military operation and their bodies recovered now,” the official said, who asked for anonymity. “The FC has been conducting military operations against the terrorists in Bara and other areas of Khyber tribal region.”
Witnesses claimed one of the slain men found on Sunday was a former commander of the banned militant organisation, Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI), which is fighting the government in the Khyber agency.
LeI is also fighting the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistan Taliban, in the area and frequently clashes with the larger group.
Fighting in the Bara area of Khyber, which sits astride a strategic supply route for Nato forces fighting in Afghanistan, has increased markedly in the past week, with security forces conducting a search and cordon operation since Tuesday.
A curfew was imposed, but security forces’ checkposts and convoys were still being attacked by militants. Witnesses said 30 to 35 people had been killed since the operation began.
“We are investigating the incident,” said assistant political agent for Khyber, Bakhtiar Mohmand. “A few people had gone missing the first few days of the operation, we cannot confirm their identities yet.”
The government had asked women and children to evacuate the area and fighters to give themselves up.
This area of Bara is the hometown of militant leader Mangal Bagh who heads LeI. The Pakistan military and security forces have been conducting sporadic operations in the area since November 2011.
At least 25 militants and four soldiers were killed in Bara, Khyber Agency in gunfights between March 12 and 18, the official said.
“Four security forces personnel embraced martyrdom and 12 others were wounded in gunfights which left 25 militants dead,” he said.
The official said that no militant had been killed in custody and added that the military operation was directed at the militants belonging to the Taliban-linked Laskhar-e-Islam group that is led by warlord Mangal Bagh.
The group has been involved in recent suicide attacks and kidnapping in Peshawar, which borders Khyber, he said.
Two local intelligence officials confirmed the clashes and death toll.
Independent verification of the incident is not possible as access to the area is restricted by the military.
Some 18,000 people fled their homes in Khyber in October last year amid fears of a fresh outbreak of fighting between the army and militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban.
Pakistan’s seven tribal districts near the Afghan border are rife with homegrown insurgents and are strongholds of Taliban and al Qaeda operatives.
Militants have killed more than 4,800 people across Pakistan since government troops raided a mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.