Taliban gaining strength in suburbs
By Javed Aziz Khan
PESHAWAR: The provincial capital may slip into the hands of militants within a few months if the government does not take adequate measures to arrest the growing trend of militancy.
The district is surrounded by the tribal Khyber Agency in the west, Darra Adamkhel, Frontier Region Peshawar in the south and Mohmand Agency and Shabqadar town of Charsadda district in the north. Militant groups have been gaining strength for the past several months in all these towns.
Militants have now spread to innumerable villages of the Peshawar district. Radicals have thickly populated Matani, Mashokhel, Mashogagar and Badaber villages close to Darra Adamkhel.
The militants associated with two groups of the Khyber Agency led by Mangal Bagh and Haji Namdar have been gathering strength in Sheikhan, Sarband, Regi and Nasir Bagh while two militant groups of Mohmand Agency have established their writ in Mathra, Michni, Daudzai and Khazana villages.
The Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) has never attacked security forces but clashed with rival groups on three different occasions in the past that left several people dead. The LI had threatened action against all those involved in ugly businesses like running brothels, selling liquor and heroin, kidnapping for ransom and other crimes. Many living in the areas close to the stronghold of LI have now abandoned the trade to save their skin.
Similarly, threats were hurled on a number of occasions at the owners of CD and video shops, internet cafes and snooker clubs in Matani, Badaber, Mashokhel, Sulemankhel, Sheikhan and Sherkera in south and Mathra, Khazana, Daudzai, Michni and several other villages in the north of the city. A large number of such shops were bombed later when the owners ignored the warnings.
The law-enforcing agencies were also attacked in these areas on a number of occasions. The situation reached to a level that one of the former capital city police officers had to request the government for deployment of the Frontier Corps to assist the police in combating militants in these areas.
As far as attacks on the security forces are concerned, the record of Matani is the worst. At least, 18 security personnel have been killed in ambushes and attacks on security posts in the town in the last two years.
The senior policemen, who were killed in the area during different attacks, included deputy inspector general (DIG) Abid Ali, station house officer (SHO) Gohar Zaman, sub-inspector Inamullah and 13 others. Four policemen each were killed when unidentified attackers attacked police parties patrolling the town on two different occasions.
Reports said a number of criminals had also taken advantage of the situation. A number of gangs were busy kidnapping people for ransom disguised as militants. Several rivals also exploited the situation to take revenge from their enemies by attacking their properties with bombs.
The News, 11/6/2008