Militants from Afghanistan storm villages in Dir
DIR: Several security personnel were feared killed when about 300 Afghanistan-based militants stormed villages after ransacking a checkpost at Shaltalo in Barawal Valley, Dir Upper, early Wednesday, local residents and official sources said.
Sources said the Afghanistan-based militants attacked the post, jointly manned by police and Dir Levies soldiers, on the Pak-Afghan border at about 4:00am. Security forces returned the attack and a gunfight continued till the filing of the report.
Sources said about 27 police and Levies personnel and three civilians were feared killed in the attack, adding that several militants were also killed in the clashes.
According to sources and eyewitnesses, the militants, about 300 in number, besieged about five villages, Shaltalo, Nakamai, Elokas, Saro Killay and Nusrat Darra.
Fresh reinforcements of security forces, including Army, police and Levies, rushed to the spot. However, the area had not been cleared of the militants even after an operation that continued for about 20 hours.
Sources said the evacuation of the local population continued till the evening. The families were being shifted to safer places through Brawal Bandi and Bin Shahi as the report was filed. Sources said the militants also destroyed three schools and a number of houses while a police vehicle was also damaged in the attack. Driver Rahmat Khan, a resident of Dobando area, was killed in the incident. Sources said the body of the cop was brought to Dir town late in the evening. According to a police officer, bodies of the dead security men could not be retrieved because of exchange of heavy fire.
Reuters adds: A police officer in the region, Mahmood Ahmed, told Reuters by telephone that the militants were in military uniform. “They attacked the outpost and then went into the forest there,” he said.
The police officer further said that all communication with the villages that were attacked by the militants had been cut off. Militants linked to al Qaeda, who have vowed to avenge the killing of their leader Osama bin Laden by US special forces in Pakistan on May 2, have intensified their attacks, mostly suicide bombings.