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October 08, 2008 Wednesday Shawwal 08, 1429

Bajaur areas cleared of militants, claim elders: Deployment of security men sought

By Anwarullah Khan

KHAR, Oct 7: A jirga of the Salarzai tribe in Bajaur declared on Tuesday that their area had been cleared of militants and now it was for the government to re-establish its writ.

The jirga held in Pasht decided not to allow local and foreign militants enter their area.

Tribal elders and ulema attended the jirga which also decided that the Salarzai lashkar would continue its campaign against militants.

Teams comprising 200 armed volunteers were set up for night patrolling in the main areas of Salarzai, including Upper Madak, Lower Madak, Upper Sadin and Lower Sadin.

Tribal elder Malik Habibullah Khan said that most of the areas had been cleared of militants and their supporters and some elements who were still in Banda would soon be eliminated.

“The administration should now deploy the Levies and paramilitary personnel to set up checkposts,” he said.

The administration had abandoned all checkposts in Salarzai before launching a military operation in Bajaur on August 6.

The jirga declared that the militants were enemies of the people of Bajaur and the country and they would not be allowed to resume their activities. “Anyone being in contact or having social interaction with the militants will be considered enemy of the Salarzai tribesmen. He will be fined Rs1 million and will be expelled from the area”.

Meanwhile, sporadic clashes between troops and militants were reported from Tang Khatta, Rashakai, Khazana and Kausar areas.

Troops pounded militants’ positions with artillery and mortars.

Evacuation of Afghan nationals is continuing from the area and the authorities arrested another 20 Afghans.

Fata Secretary Ghulam Qadir told Dawn in Peshawar that the Afghans living in Bajaur and other agencies in Fata were illegal immigrants and did not have the status of refugees.

He said the government had closed all refugee camps in the area and these people could not live there.

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