Six persons including a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) who were taken hostage by terrorist during a firefight in the mountains of Matta tehsil of Swat have been released through a jirga.
The incident took place in the mountainous area, on the border of Swat and Dir districts.
The development came following an earlier attack on police checkpost in Chaprial area of Matta by unknown assailants early hours of Monday.
A police contingent led by the DSP Matta was dispatched to the area later during the day to search for terrorists got into firefight with militants, which left four policemen including the DSP injured.
The terrorists later taken six persons including the DSP and other injured.
The hostages were later released through the efforts of local elders’ jirga and the injured are currently recuperating at hospital.
A Swat local requesting anonymity said that the incident took place in Asmani village on the border of Swat and Dir districts. “From this area, the militants enter Matta and Kabal areas of Swat from Dir via Afghanistan,” he said, adding that in the past Peuchar and Matta have been strongholds of Taliban.
The local said that there were reports of about Taliban presence in the area for past one month. “There were also reports of Taliban visiting the area, telling people to not come out of their houses at night,” he said.
Besides, he said that there were also reports of Taliban extorting locals.
“Taliban have been doing these same things in the past and locals are also facing the same situation,” he said.
Swat police officials were not available for comments despite repeated attempts.
On the other hand, Shahzad Alam, a local journalist from Swat posted his phone call with a Taliban commander by making a call on the number of DSP Pir Syed.
In the video, the Taliban commander could be heard telling the reporter that they have directed by their leaders to go back to their native areas as ceasefire with the security forces was in effect.
He said that police personnel climbed mountains to attack them.
“We have not attacked police personnel in light of our leaders’ directions to not attack security personnel,” he said.
Besides, he could be also heard saying the DSP was injured and they have hand him over to his colleagues, once they reach the area.
On the other hand, Jamaat Islami (JI) senior leader MPA Inayatullah Khan told TNN on phone that incidents of terrorism in Malakand have shown the presence of terrorists in the region.
Besides, he said that locals in lower and upper Dir as well as in Swat were talking about presence of Taliban in their areas.
Mr Khan said that security agencies have also alerted his security guards to remain vigilant after recent attacks in the area.
“I am continuing my political activities as I could not leave my area people at the mercy of terrorists,” he said.
Who attacked Lower Dir MPA Malik Laiqat?
Regarding the attack on Lower Dir MPA Malik Liaqat Ali Khan, which left four people dead, Mr Khan said that he visited the family to condole the deaths.
However, he said that it was well known fact in the area that the family had received calls for payment of extortion money. Mr Khan said that there were also reports of calls demanding extortion money from people in Bajaur, Lakki Marwat, Lower Dir, Upper Dir and Swat districts.
“These days situation resembles the early days of Taliban from 2007-2010,” he said.
He said that government fenced the Pakistan-Afghanistan border; however, the movement of terrorists was showing htat it was not meeting its purpose.
Mr Khan said that the province has badly suffered due to terrorism and now again the situation was drifting towards lawlessness.
He said that there appears to be no writ of government. “Malakand is the hometown of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister and he needs to focus on improving government writ in the area,” he said.
Swat Hotels Association president Zahid Khan said that Taliban were issuing threats to locals and demanding them to pay extortion money.
He said that security agencies have asked them to stay alert.
Mr Zahid said that the strength of local police has been increased to 15,000 from 10,000 while army was also present in the district.
However, he said that Taliban taking DSP and other security personnel hostage and their subsequent release through a jirga showed the regrouping of the terrorists in the area.
Mr Zahid said that social and peace activists were being target. Some days back, unknown people shot dead a government contractor and these incidents in the presence of thousands of security personnel were causing unease among locals, he said.
On the other hand, attacks on security forces have become a routine in North Waziristan district. Earlier this week, four security personnel were martyred in a suicide attack in the district.