Pakistani villagers take on Taliban


Islamabad : Hundreds of people have risen up against Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s northwestern district of Upper Dir and killed “several” militants in weekend raids, media reports said Sunday.

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The militia was raised in the remote Hayagai village where a suicide bombing at a mosque Friday killed at least 49 people minutes before the start of early afternoon prayers.

Armed locals from Hayagai stormed six Taliban-held villages in nearby Doog Darra Saturday to avenge the mosque attack, The News daily reported.

Though an exact casualty count was not available, up to six militants were believed to have been killed, The News cited unnamed residents as saying.

Aaj television channel put the death toll at 11. It also said the militia raid was assisted by security forces.

The newspaper said militiamen shouted slogan of “Pakistan has awakened” while raiding the Taliban positions.

Half a dozen houses used by the militants were also torched.

A tribal elder in Hayagai told The News that “we are not ready to allow them (Taliban) to unleash terror here”.

The clashes marked the re-emergence of armed opposition to the militants entrenched in the northwestern region near Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s concerted campaign to flush out militants from the Swat Valley, which borders Upper Dir, has encouraged anti-insurgency forces to resist Taliban infiltration.

The US and other Western countries have welcomed the operation, which also has vast support of Pakistan’s political parties and the public.

But commentators fear that the local support could evaporate if the people displaced by the conflict were not properly taken care of or if the collateral damage ran high.

Fierce fighting has uprooted more than 2.5 million citizens in just over a month.

The Taliban have already announced that they will carry out revenge attacks in main cities.

The latest strike came in the capital city, Islamabad, Saturday when a suicide bomber scaled a wall around the the police emergency response centre and blew himself up after guards opened fire. Two policemen were killed and four others were wounded.