Fierce clashes continue in Hangu
KOHAT: Security forces continued their operation against heavily-armed Taliban militants in different areas of Hangu district on Thursday, taking full control of Zargari town. The town, which was a stronghold of Taliban, was secured on Thursday, the sixth day of the operation launched after 15 army soldiers were killed by the militants.
According to reports reaching here, security forces pushed the militants out of Zargari town after heavy gunbattles. The most affected areas were Kaga Waga, Saramala Kandao, Tora Ghundi, Zargari, Naryab, Shnawarai, Durari Banda and Doaba where three people were killed when helicopter gunships pounded militants’ positions.
A woman died of heart attack after a mortar fired by militants landed near her home. In the same area, five people, three of them women, were injured by mortars fired by militants.
Troops are reported to have established permanent checkpoints in different parts of Zargari and Naryab after securing Doaba.
About 1500 security personnel have moved into the area and they are using artillery, tanks and four helicopter gunships.
People in different parts of Hangu are facing food shortage and find it difficult to move to safer places because of the fighting and curfew.
Doaba Union Council Nazim Malik Asghar told Dawn by phone that about 25000 to 30,000 people of Zargari, Naryab and adjacent areas had moved to Kohat, Peshawar, Abottabad and some areas of Punjab over the past five to six days. But a large number of people were still stranded in the area and they wanted a relaxation in curfew and some transport to move to safer places.
The administration is reported to be considering relaxing curfew for some time on Friday to allow the people to offer prayers and buy food, but no official announcement was made till the evening.
Mr Asghar said the people were also facing problems because banks and shops were closed and they had run out of cash.
The nazim appealed to the authorities and militants to stop fighting and start talks. He demanded relaxation in the curfew so that the people could get out of the affected areas and buy food. The nazim said that many shops, a poultry farm, a school, and several houses had been damaged in the fighting.