Pakistan

Panic grips Swat after spurt in TTP activities


The scenic Swat valley remained tense on Wednesday after a sudden spurt in the attacks by the militants from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the latest being an attack on a police post in the Matta Tehsil of the district.

The attack happened as the authorities recovered three more bodies from the site of Tuesday’s remote-controlled explosion in Bura Banday area, raising the death toll from the blast to eight, including a local anti-Taliban leader, two policemen and two labourers.

Police said that the attack on the police post happened in the Sokhara area of the Matta Tehsil overnight. The militants attacked the post from three sides but there was no casualty, a police official said, adding that the attacker later fled from the scene.

The recent wave of attacks came after more extremists from the outlawed TTP entered Swat from Afghanistan. The locals said that the militants had established their hideouts in the hilly areas of the Matta Tehsil.

In a video message, taking rounds on social media purportedly from a Taliban commander, warned that the militants had entered Swat in large number and that they would not spare any Taliban opponent, particularly those affiliated with the Awami National Party (ANP).

Swat District Police Officer (DPO) Zahid Nawaz Marwat did not respond to repeated telephone calls for comments on the ongoing situation.

Blast death toll rises

In Bura Banday, where five people died in a blast on Tuesday, investigators recovered three more bodies, raising the death toll to eight. The dead included a local leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) Idris Khan and two policemen.

Also among the deceased were labourer brothers Afzal Shah and Ibrahim Shah. They died, while were working on installing marble in the house of Idris Khan. It was stated that one of the brothers was to get married on Sunday.

Khan had gone to inspect the work at his home. On his way back, the brothers joined him in his vehicle after completing the day’s labour. They were sitting in Khan’s car which hit the remote-controlled explosion. The funeral for the Shah brothers was held at Fazil Banday.

Kidnapping for ransom

In a further sign of deteriorating law and order situation in Swat, kidnappers demanded Rs100 million ransom for the release of two employees of a private cellular company. The two were part of a group of seven employees, who were abducted from the Matta Tehsil on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the kidnappers released five of the employees and held back two in their captivity. The kidnappers also released the picture of one of the hostages along with the demand for Rs100 ransom.

The menace of kidnapping for ransom and extortion is on the rise in the district, from where the Taliban militant were driven out in a military operation about 13 years ago. After Tuesday’s blast and attacks on police, several people have complained of receiving threatening calls.

Police registered a case on the complaint of Asif Sardar, son of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) member of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Sardar Khan. Sardar told the police that Taliban had warned his father of dire consequences if money was not paid to them.

Last month, too, extremists attacked the Chaparyal police station in the district. On the next day, a deputy superintendent of police and two other officers were kidnapped after a shootout in which the officers were injured.

The local population is worried over the recent wave of attacks. They say that these incidents have affected their businesses in the entire district. At present, roads in district are conspicuous for the absence of tourists.

The people are particularly worried about the news of the return of the extremists in Swat. The members of the civil society have severely criticised the Swat police, questioning how the militants re-entered Swat in the presence of thousands of policemen.

The civil society members also organised a protest rally in Nishat Chowk, in the main city of Mingora, which was attended by a large number of people. The protestors carried placards and raised slogans for peace in the valley.


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