2 killed, seven hurt: Jaish factions fight over mosques
KOHAT: Two factions of the banned Jaish-i-Muhammad militant organisation long struggling for the control over mosques in Tappi area came to armed clash on Tuesday that killed two men and injured seven others.
Sources said that 50 armed members of Masood Azhar faction attacked the headquarters of Mohammad Asif group in an orchard in Baqizai area on Bannu Road.
Both the groups traded fire, which left two persons dead and seven injured. Those killed belonged to Asif group, the sources said.
Their bodies were taken to Women and Children Hospital for autopsy while the injured were taken to KDA hospital for treatment.
Police cordoned off the whole area but the hour-long intense firing by the two sides prevented them from venturing into the orchard.
Police launched a search operation after the incident to arrest the militants involved in the firing but they managed to escape. Cases were registered against members of both the factions.
Masood Azhar faction of the banned outfit is led by Bakht Mohammad whereas Asif group is headed by Mohammad Ishaq in Kohat division.
Tussle between the two factions has been going on for the last many months for the control of three mosques and a seminary, which are main source of strength and income of the outfit.
Last week a jirga was held at the disputed Masjid-i-Shuhada in Tappi area. The jirga was attended by hundreds of men of Masood Azhar group, four men from Asif faction and elders of the area. Both the groups reached a verbal agreement at the jirga about handing over the mosque to local people.
Mr Asif, who was killed under mysterious circumstances, had resigned from the organisation alleging that its leaders were using them for vested interests. He had also said that leaders were working against the policy of the organisation and raising controversial issues.
However, his group said that it would not leave control of three mosques and a seminary as it had constructed them. The Masood Azhar group challenged the decision and said that Mohammad Asif had been expelled from the organisation on corruption charges and had no right to keep the mosques.