11 militants killed in Pakistan's Orakzai agency

March 8, 2013 at 12:50 PM
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ISLAMABAD, March 8 (UPI) -- Pakistani security forces have killed 11 insurgents in Pakistan's Orakzai northwestern tribal region.

Orakzai is one of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous northwestern tribal regions, where Pakistani Taliban and militants linked to al-Qaida hold sway.

Pakistani security forces killed the militants in Ghundamela tribal region when security forces took control of the insurgent's hideout.

In a further sign of the region's instability, even as Pakistani troops prevailed against the insurgent base a remote-control bomb attack targeted a security forces vehicle in Orakzai's Nadirmela region, killing a soldier and wounding three others, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported Friday.

Besides the Orakzai operation, Pakistan security forces targeted militant factions in the Khyber tribal region's Tirah Valley, using fighter jets to attack positions held by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and Ansarul Islam militants in the Khyber's Bar Qamber Khel area.

Pakistan's Orakzai tribe lives primarily in the Orakzai and Khyber agencies, with some scattered in the country's Kohat and Peshawar districts.

While the Orakzais are predominantly Sunni Muslims, they include Shiite Muslims, primarily in the Muhammad Khels clan. The Sunni and Shiite communities are separated by the Mastura River.

The Orakzai tribes take their name, "lost son" ("Wrak Zoi"), from a historical legend about their common ancestor, Sikandar Shah, an Iranian prince.

Pakistan's Orakzai agency is rife with insurgent groups. These include the Abdullah Azzam Brigade, a shadowy group apparently composed of Taliban members from the Commander Tariq Group, who merged with some Arakzai elements of Ayman al Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

Another militant group is the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. Formed in 1996, LiJ is an anti-Shiite terror group that has integrated with al-Qaida and the Taliban in Pakistan's tribal areas, which began as an offshoot of the sectarian radical group Sipah-e-Sahaba.

A third group operating in the Agency is Commander Tariq Group, considered the most powerful contemporary terrorist group in Orakzai.

The Ghazi Force also operates in in Orakzai. Named after Ghazi Abdul Rasheed, the brother of former Red Mosque leader Maulana Abdullah Aziz, Ghazi was killed when Pakistani troops assaulted the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.

The Ghazi Force operates a training camp in Guljo in Hangu and has conducted suicide attacks in Islamabad. The Ghazi Force is led by Maulana Niaz Raheem, a former student of the Red Mosque.

Yet another militant group present in Orakzai is the Hakeemullah Mehsud, which operates in the Lower Kurram Valley, where most of the inhabitants are Sunnis.

Despite their presence, Orakzai inhabitants have had a wary view toward the Pakistani Taliban, where local opinions have traditionally been neutral to unfavorable.

Pakistani Taliban factions moved into the Agency by force in 2007 and the following year, local residents formed militias against the Taliban but abandoned the effort a few months later following a lack of support by the Pakistani government.

In May 2008 a Taliban jirga ordered all non-governmental organizations to leave the agency and banned girls' schools; further alienating local residents.

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