ISLAMABAD – The deadly spate of violence in Upper Dir has spread to the adjoining district of Lower Dir, following the beheading of seven Pakistani soldiers by Afghan militants.
The latest clashes, sparked by an ambush of Pakistan military convoy on Sunday night, have so far left 14 militants and 13 military men dead. Six soldiers were killed during the clashes on Sunday and 11 went missing, seven of them were found beheaded on Monday, while four were still missing.
Militants from Afghanistan’s Kunar province also launched a couple of rocket attacks followed by sniper fire between 11.30 am to 11.45 am, targeting military pickets at Tripaman Heights in Lower Dir. The attacks stopped after Pakistani troops retaliated.
Earlier on Sunday night, over a hundred militants from the bordering villages in Afghanistan’s Kunar province stormed into Upper Dir and kidnapped 11 Pakistani soldiers, seven of which were beheaded and their bodies were found on Monday, military officials said.
During exchange of heavy fire, the security forces had killed 14 militants, while six military men also lost their lives.
Talking to TheNation, District Coordination Officer Lower Dir Mahmood Aslam Wazir said the district administration had declared the villages and suburban areas located on the outskirts between Lower and Upper Dir as highly sensitive. He said the situation remained ‘extremely volatile’ till early hours of Monday. “It’s under control now. Some parts are highly sensitive though. We have asked the residents to follow precautionary measures and stay indoors in the areas that have witnessed militant attacks. There is likelihood that such attacks can recur; so it’s advisable not to take risk.”
So far, the number of casualties and injuries was not known in Lower Dir, while the injured soldiers in Upper Dir were treated in Combined Military Hospital (CMH) there, the DCO said.
Police and paramilitary patrolling parties were guarding the city areas, while military authorities were mainly overseeing the security measures taken across the district, Wazir further said.
Reuters adds: Pakistan lodged a protest with NATO and Afghan forces on Monday, accusing them of failing to act against militant safe havens in Afghanistan after a cross-border attack killed 13 Pakistani troops, a military official said.
The move is likely to intensify tensions between troubled allies Islamabad and Washington, currently involved in difficult talks to repair ties.
The Foreign Ministry said the deputy head of Afghan mission was called to the Foreign Office and a strong protest was lodged on “the intrusion of militants from the Afghan side into Pakistani territory.”
The Afghan diplomat was informed that “the government of Afghanistan should take appropriate measures to prevent recurrence of similar incidents in future,” it said.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said it was aware of the report, but had no information.
Afghan militants behead 7 Pak troops