Plugging leaks: Troops to take position in Torghar to help prevent entry of militants



ABBOTABAD:The army has been deployed in Torghar following the recent increase in militant attacks in the district and the threat of infiltration by militants fleeing the military operation.

“Yes, it’s been decided and the military troops have started arriving,” confirmed DPO Iftikharuddin while speaking to The Express Tribune on Monday.

The troops have reached district headquarters Judba for further deployment as per the security plan, he said.

The decision to bring in the army was taken after military officials in the district held meetings with local elders from Basikhel, Nusratkhel and Akazai tribes, Zahid Khan, a human rights activist from Judba, told The Express Tribune.

At these meetings, the military urged elders to cooperate with authorities in identifying strangers in the area as well as criminal elements. According to Zahid, the tribal elders were asked to keep a vigilant eye on non-locals as well as locals whose background or activities were questionable. The elders were exhorted to keep military officials informed about the presence of such people at all times.

Zahid said the military officials were assured of full cooperation. The tribesmen went so far as to ask for a list of terrorists and wanted criminals from the district, offering to keep security and law enforcement agencies apprised if such elements were within the bounds of Torghar.

Boots on ground

Dr Siraj from the Basikhel tribe welcomed the arrival of troops in Torghar. With Shangla on one side and the forests of Battagram on the other, the chances of militants sneaking into Torghar cannot be ruled out, said the elder.

“The police on its own is not equipped to protect the lives of the poverty-ridden villagers of Torghar,” added Siraj.

Another Basikhel elder, Taj Khan, also hailed the deployment of the army in the district. “With Shangla right across and the ongoing operation against terrorists, they could easily make their way into the settled area via this district.”

“We are with our army and extend them every support in securing the lives of the people of Torghar and adjoining districts,” added Taj.

Torghar district is known for its poppy cultivation. It only achieved the status of a settled district in 2011 under the Awami National Party government. Even then, the district was not brought to par with other settled districts in terms of development and infrastructure and continues to grow the banned crop to make a living.

Attacking Torghar

A Karwal police station van was targeted in Daraband on June 20 by a remote-controlled explosive device. The blast killed levies constable Naseeb Bahadur and police constable Fayaz Khan instantly. The driver of the van, Ajab Khan, sustained injuries.

On June 16, nearly 15 armed men stormed a police check post at 3:30am in Mangrai. After an ambush involving grenades, the attackers attempted to cut off the policemen’s right hands but did not succeed, leaving four policemen severely injured. The attackers also took away officially issued arms and ammunition from the check post.

In Surmal, a few kilometres from Judba, on May 9, 2013, a bomb blast resulted in the death of a constable and three civilians. Other attacks in 2013 and 2011 also targeted police officials in the district.

According to official sources, Maulana Dost Muhammad and Momin Khan, two leaders of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, were from Judba.

Mangari attack

At the time of the Mangari check post attack, at least 12 policemen had been present, sleeping inside the post. Eight of them had fled when the attackers lobbed the first grenade. On Monday, the Torghar DPO suspended all eight men who had left behind policemen Gul Ameen, Mahsam Khan, Ismail Khan and Shirin Badshah to be assaulted by the attackers.

According to the DPO, 12 other policemen who were meant to be deployed at the check post were absent from duty on the day of the ambush. “Disciplinary action will be taken against them,” he said. “Those who fled the post at the time of attack can be terminated from their services for showing cowardice,” said Iftikharuddin, without disclosing the name of those who were suspended.


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