Dreaded LI chief `on the run`

LANDI KOTAL: The chief of Bara-based militant organisation Lashkar-i-Islam, Mangal Bagh, has fled to Afghanistan from Khyber Agency, claim his opponents. They have also demanded of the government to ask Afghan government to extradite him.“Mangal Bagh has contacts with anti-Pakistan elements in Afghanistan. He has presently taken refuge with Haji Amin Shah in Naziyan area of Nangarhar province in Afghanistan after fleeing Tirah valley of Khyber Agency,” Haji Akhunzada Qamarkhel, a leader of Ansaarul Islam, told a press conference on Sunday.However, security officials and political administration expressed ignorance about the authenticity of the claim made by Ansaarul Islam, the rival group of Lashkar-i-Islam.An official of the political administration, who did not want to be named, told Dawn that they had also heard the news from certain quarters, but so far they could not verify it.Similarly, a security official, when contacted, said that it was the job of intelligence agencies to verify the news. “So far we have not received any information from the intelligence agencies in this regard,” he added. He said that within a day or two they would be in better position to confirm where Mangal Bagh was hiding.

Mr Qamarkhel urged security forces to launch a full-fledged military operation against hideouts and bases of Mangal Bagh in Sipah and Akkakhel areas of Tirah as according to him his network could only be dismantled if all his bases were destroyed.He appealed to the security forces to secure safe release of hundreds of kidnapped persons, being kept at the private jails of LI in Sipah and Akkakhel bases.Speaking on the occasion, Ansaarul Islam spokesman Qari Mehbub said that his organisation extended full support to Zakhakhel tribal lashkar against Mangal Bagh. He hoped that they would soon take control of LI bases in the entire Tirah valley.“Mangal Bagh and his band of armed activists have unleashed a reign of terror in the name of religion to victimise their opponents. Hundreds of innocent men have been killed and many others kidnapped for ransom by LI during the last six years of atrocities in Bara,” he alleged.Meanwhile, sources said that fresh clashes erupted between the Zakhakhel lashkar and members of LI in Mangalbagh Kandao and Khera Mela areas of Khyber Agency.These villages are situated near the boundary between the Zakhakehl and Sipah tribes. However, the number of casualties in the clashes could not be confirmed. – Dawn