Swat Taliban claim ambush 13 killed in Dir attack
UPPER DIR, June 25: The army confirmed on Monday to have lost 13 men in Upper Dir district in Sunday afternoon’s attack on its patrol team from across the Afghan border.
Having earlier denied that any attack had taken place, it said on Monday it had lost six men in the ambush in the Sabir Kalley area on Dir’s western border with Afghanistan. Eleven others were believed missing.
A senior army officer said that seven of the missing men “had reportedly been killed and then beheaded”.
The confirmation came shortly after Pakistani militants who had fled from Swat during the military operation of May 2009 to Afghanistan and were reportedly living in Kunar province claimed to have killed 18 soldiers.
“We have bodies of 17 of them,” Sirajuddin, spokesman for the Swat chapter of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, told reporters on phone.
But a spokesman for the central TTP in North Waziristan said four of the 11 missing soldiers were alive.
The army officer said more than 100 militants “from their safe haven across the border” intruded into Pakistan and attacked the patrol in the afternoon on Sunday with heavy weapons.
“Pakistan Army has lodged a strong protest with their counterparts across the border for not acting against miscreants present in safe havens in Afghanistan,” he said.
This was the third such attack this month in a border stretch of about 10km in Upper Dir, raising apprehensions about a tough summer when melting snow will improve visibility and make movement across the mountainous region easier.
Local people said Pakistani militants were operating from their base about 5km from the border in area where there was no presence of Afghan or Nato forces.
They said 11 of the killed and missing people were from the army, six paramilitary personnel and one civilian.
The growing cross-border attacks have caused concern among people in Barawal, the main town in Upper Dir’s border region.
Troops were deployed along the border in September last year to prevent militants from crossing into Pakistan and attacking villagers and security personnel.
The past 10 days have seen a dramatic increase in militants’ attacks.