Threatening pamphlets appeared in three areas of the region, including Bazargai and Zayari
The unwanted midnight appearance of eight masked and heavily armed men caused widespread panic in Frontier Region (FR) Peshawar after months of relative peace.
An elder told The Express Tribune the men were armed to the teeth. “First, threatening pamphlets appeared in three areas of the region, including Bazargai and Zayari. Now, the sighting of these armed men has confirmed the presence of militants who could be locals or outsiders,” he said. The elder added there were rumours these were members of the Islamic State, but there was no confirmation as nobody spoke to them or saw their faces. “Residents informed security forces who raided several possible hideouts,” the elder said. “However, the men had disappeared.” He added the elders, contrary to popular belief, believed these were local militants who escaped to Afghanistan after the military operations, but returned recently.
Another elder said security forces arrested six people on suspicion the next day, but the eight who appeared in the middle of the night were from a separate group.
“These are people who worked in Karachi but returned to their villages for Eid holidays,” the elder said about those detained. He added many of them had some affiliation with militants in the past and were shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation.
A member of the local khasadar force said the rumours of militant presence were not entirely baseless.
“There is activity in the area. Initially, it was rejected as street talk, but the Badhaber basecamp attack has proven that a group is present.” He said militants had been spotted after Eid at several places, but security forces were unable to locate them. Now it is believed that they managed to escape. “Army is present in the area and we are not worried about the possibility of militant’s comeback. However, they come and go under the cover of darkness as it is a vast semi-mountainous region with large wooded patches,” said the khasadar soldier.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2015.