Pakistan Army, in the early hours of Wednesday, killed five militants while they were attempting to enter Pakistan via Dubaja in Astoi area, Chitral.
According to details, the army had been monitoring the movement of the unidentified gunmen after an attack last week that left two Kalash shepherds dead and scores of their cattle stolen by armed men who came from the Afghan side.
A high ranking police official in Drosh informed Daily Times that a forward formation of the army from Astoi Check Post had been observing the known crossing points when they came under attack by unknown number of armed men trying to cross into Pakistan. The soldiers were able to kill five militants in a gun battle that started at about 4:15am and lasted for over half an hour. Local sources said that the number of militants ranged from 10 to 12. The remaining infiltrators left the bodies of their comrades and returned to Nuristan province of Afghanistan.
According to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release, locals informed the army about the presence of terrorists in the area. It added that there was no casualty among the security forces during the clash and that the forces had recovered one submachine gun with 55 rounds, one light machine gun with 60 rounds and one repeater with 12 rounds from the slain terrorists. The army brought bodies of the slain militants to a basic health unit in Bumburet valley. The bodies were later handed over to the local police. The postmortem on the bodies were performed after a doctor arrived in Bumburet from Chitral. However, no one in the local community was allowing the burial of five militants in their lands.
Drosh Sub-division Police Officer Zafar Ahmad told this scribe that the militants were killed near the site of Friday’s attack. “These men were trying to enter Pakistan in the dark but they were unaware of the army patrol party. One soldier sustained a minor injury when he bruised his left hand as he slipped during the action,” he added.
Intrusions into the Kalash summer pastures by armed men is not a new exercise, as locals date back such activities to even before the creation of Pakistan. Abdul Khaliq, local elder in Bumburet, one of the three Kalash valleys where more than 4,000 indigenous Kalash people live since ages, opined that not every attack from across the border could be attributed to the militants. “Even before the Pakistani Taliban took shelter in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, the local people of that province used to attack us and steal our goats. We are a soft target for such elements as we restrain from violence,” Abdul Khaliq claimed.
People in the Kalash valleys were left in fear as reports from the border areas a week ago suggested that more than 30 militants were seen there. Their fears became true when two non-Muslim shepherds were killed by militants who took away more than 700 goats in two separate attacks on Friday.
Earlier, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali had asked the government to ensure border security in order to avoid such incidents in future. He demanded recruitment of at least 300 more border police personnel from the Kalash tribe for deployment along the border with Afghanistan to secure the borders and protect the people of Kalash. Malakand General Officer Commanding (GOC) Major General Asif Ghayur visited the valley on Wednsday and assured the locals that the army and other security forces were well prepared to protect the residents round the clock. He asked the locals to stay vigilant and inform the forces in case of any attack by militants from across the border. The killing of the five militants has lifted the spirits of the Kalash people, as they see it a positive step towards restoration of peace in their areas.