The Pakistani Taliban have captured large tracts of the Tirah Valley in the restive Khyber tribal region of northwest Pakistan after weeks of fierce fighting with the Ansar-ul-Islam,a rival militant group.
Militants of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan captured the headquarters of the Ansar-ul-Islam and hoisted their flag on the building in Bagh area of Tirah valley yesterday,several media reports said today.
Tribesmen were quoted by The News daily as saying that hundreds of Taliban fighters pushed back Ansar-ul-Islam cadres in Qamberkhel and entered Malikdinkhel on Sunday night.
They captured the Ansar-ul-Islam headquarters in Bagh after “light resistance” from the rival group. The Taliban occupied the rival group’s headquarters and surrounding bazaar in and hoisted their flags in the area.
Reports said Ansar-ul-Islam chief Qazi Mehboob and his deputy Ezatullah had shifted to Zakhakhel on Sunday night. The houses and office of Mehboob and his deputy in Malikdinkhel area were blown up by the Taliban.
However,Taliban fighters are yet to enter Shalobar and Zakhakhel areas,which are controlled by Ansar-ul-Islam. Minor clashes also occurred between the two groups in some pockets in Qamberkhel and Malikdinkhel area.
Pakistan air Force jets bombarded suspected Taliban positions in Tarkikhel and Durbikhel areas and destroyed its three hideouts,the report said. The Khyber Agency,which is part of a vital route linking Pakistan and Afghanistan,has witnessed fierce fighting between the Taliban and rival groups since last year.