Pakistan's battleground spreads along Afghan border
By Aamir Latif, Monday, May 26, 2014
ISLAMABAD – The battle between Pakistan's security forces and the Taliban has been spreading beyond the northwestern North Waziristan region to neighboring tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in recent days, security experts told Anadolu Agency on Monday.
The Mohmand and Bajur tribal agencies are expected to be the next hotspot of battles between Taliban and security forces as both have intensified their positions in the two areas, which had previously been declared militant-free.
Six militants were killed and two soldiers injured in a clash in Mohmand agency on Saturday and five bodies, as yet unidentified, were found in the area on Monday.
A leader of pro-government militia that supports security forces in anti-militant operations narrowly escaped a life attempt in Bajur on Saturday, increasing fear among pro-government tribesmen.
Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesperson for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan coalition of Taliban groups, claims the Taliban have captured some key positions in Mohmand and Bajur agencies.
Shahid told reporters the war with security forces was spreading to other tribal regions after heavy bombardment has killed more than 100 in North Waziristan in the last two weeks.
“Taliban are spreading the clashes to other parts of tribal region in line with a well-planned strategy to save loss of their men,” Ikram Sehgal, a Karachi-based security analyst, told Anadolu Agency.
Sehgal, who is also the editor of the Defense Journal of Pakistan, said that Mohmand and Bajur areas were likely to be the next battlefield because of their strategic location near Afghanistan's northeastern Kunar province - a reported base camp for TTP militants.
The areas had been strongholds of TTP commanders Umer Khalid Khurrsani and Mualvi Faqeer Mohammad whose fighters were pushed towards Kunar by a military onslaught in 2011.
However, the fresh flare up of attacks in the two regions - which are part of seven semi-autonomous tribal regions - has rung alarm bells within the ranks of the security forces, who have also intensified their presence in the two hard-won localities.
A Bajur-based journalist, who wants to remain anonymous, told AA the security forces had increased their numbers.
“The recent clashes have refreshed the bitter memories of bloody clashes between the two sides a couple of years ago”, the journalist said. “We certainly are scared as we do not want those bad days to return."
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