Swat Taliban move to gain foothold in Buner

BUNER: Tense calm prevailed as armed militants expanded their activities to Bagra and Kalabatt areas of Buner on Wednesday despite repeated calls by the Quami Jirga to vacate the district.

The militants, after consolidating their positions in Gokand valley, claimed more territory by occupying Kalabatt village (some two kilometers from Pacha Bazar) the, strategic Bagra police post and a government-run school on Wednesday. They also established their base-camp on the roadside in the area, just four kilometers from district headquarter Daggar.

The militants handed over dead bodies of two Lashkar men and three police personnel to a third party in Barwazee area after talks with renowned religious figure Shiekhul Hadiath Maulana Waliullah Kabalgrami.

The bodies were brought to civil hospital Pacha for autopsy and were handed over to their relatives for burial.

The deceased Waseem Khan and Peer Mohammad Khan were bodyguards of a key leader of Qaumi Lashkar. The militants reportedly torched several houses and took control of a petrol pump of the Lashakar leader on Tuesday evening.

A large number of residents left Sultanwas village and shifted to safer places due to fear of militants attack.

The local jirga elders and district administration officials through reconciliatory committee including leaders of Tehrik Nefaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM) held several rounds of talk with Taliban to convince them to leave the area by giving safe passage to them. But the militant commander was of the view that Tehrik Taliban high command has ordered their Tashkeel (stay) in the area and they would leave after holding a peace march and visit to six killed Taliban in Shalbandi.

Malakand commissioner Mohammad Javed Khan, Taliban commander Mehmood Khan, TNSM vice chief Maulana Mohammad Alam, district chief Maulana Salar and others visited Dara Gokand on Tuesday to calm tensions.

They held several rounds of talks with the Taliban commander Rizwan Bacha of Puechar, Swat. The dialogue continued till late on Tuesday evening but no breakthrough was reported.

Sources close to Taliban said that the militants are in no mood to leave the area. They have declared their headquarters in Buner district and were bent on holding peace march in the district and to monitor the affairs in accordance with the Nizam-i –Adl Regulation.

The reconciliatory committee members and a delegation including commissioner Malakand Mohammad Javed, TNSM vice chief Maulana Mohammad Alam and Taliban commander Mehmood Khan has failed to resolve the crisis.

As a last ditch effort to avoid bloodshed in the once a peaceful Buner district a delegation of local religious leaders led by Maulana Waliullah was in talk with the elders of Quami jirga at Madrassa Taleem ul Quran at Adalat Chowk Daggar. He has earlier held dialogue with Taliban commander Rizwan Bacha of Peuchar in Gokand Valley.