Pakistan: Jirga violence leaves 16 dead F.P. Report

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MATTA: A clash between members of a Jirga and Taliban has claimed 16 lives in Matta Tehsil of Swat. Three important commanders including Mulla Shamsheer are among the killed while the Taliban have taken 60 people hostage. According to a private TV channel, sixteen people were killed in a clash between militants and a local Jirga of Pir Samiullah here in Mundal Daag area, Matta Tehsil. Most of the dead belong to the Jirga while some are said to be the local residents who were helping the Jirga members. The deceased members of Jirga have been identified as Dr. Akbar Khan, Aziz, Mumtaz, Behr Hamd, Afreen and Ayub. Three important commanders of militants killed in the clash are identified as Mulla Shamsheer, Amjad and Barkat. Mulla Shamsheer is said to hail from Chapryal area of Matta. Meanwhile, three persons were killed and four others injured by the militants firing in Sambat area of Matta Tehsil. The militants have fired a rocket on the security check post in Tota Bandai area of Teshil Kabal, injuring one security man. A 10-year old child was killed and another person injured by firing of unknown men in Sambat area of Tehsil Matta. KHAR: Troops fought Taliban in separate battles in northwestern area on Sunday, killing 11 in an insurgent stronghold overlooking the Afghan border, an official said. Jamil Khan, the No. 2 government representative in Bajaur, said eight fighters died and several others were injured when helicopters and artillery shelled several areas Sunday morning. Three more insurgents died in a gunbattle at a checkpoint in Tang Khata, a village supposedly under the control of security forces, Khan said. Khan said there were no troop casualties in either battle. The hideouts of the extremists at Charmang, Zoorband and Sarlara areas of Tehsil Nawagai were hammered with mortar shells, which destroyed several vehicles and hideouts of the extremists, while deaths also feared. Security forces have also started pounding the hideouts of the extremists through gunship helicopters. Army launched the offensive after officials declared it a "mega-sanctuary" for Taliban and al-Qaida who had set up a virtual mini-state and were funneling fighters over the mountainous border into Afghanistan. The operation has caused severe hardship for residents in the already impoverished region. Almost 200,000 people have fled the fighting, many to rough camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan government has pledged to flood the border regions with development aid in an attempt to dry up support for militant groups. It has also offered to negotiate with groups who lay down their arms, seeking to turn a tide of rising violence that has contributed to Pakistan's looming economic problems.
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