ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of Taliban terrorists armed with heavy weapons infiltrated into border villages of Lower Chitral in Bumburate and Jinjiret Koh from Afghanistan early on Wednesday (Sept 6, 2023).
Four soldiers were martyred and 12 terrorists killed in an operation to repulse the terrorists from the border areas, according to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). In a press release, the military’s media wing said a “large group of terrorists equipped with latest weapons” attacked two military posts located close to the Afghanistan border in Chitral district’s general area of Kalash.
“Terrorists’ movement and concentration in Gawardesh, Pitigal, Barg-i-Matal and Batash areas of Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan had already been picked up and were timely shared with the interim Afghan government.
“Owing to heightened threat environment, own posts were already on high alert. The valiant soldiers fought bravely and repulsed the attacks inflicting heavy casualties to the terrorists. During the fire exchange, twelve terrorists were sent to hell, while a large number has been critically injured,” the ISPR said.
It added that four soldiers “fought gallantly” during the exchange of fire and were martyred. The press release said the area was being sanitised to eliminate any other terrorists of Taliban in Chitral border area.
“Security forces of Pakistan are determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism and such sacrifices of our soldiers further strengthen our resolve.
“The brave people of Chitral also stand firmly with the security forces in not allowing the terrorists to ruin the peace of the area,” the ISPR said.
The press release added that the interim Afghan government was “expected to fulfil its obligations and deny the use of Afghan soil by terrorists for perpetuating acts of terrorism against Pakistan”.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Lower Chitral Muhammad Ali Khan told local media that four security forces personnel were martyred and five others injured in clashes with terrorists who infiltrated Chitral areas from Afghanistan through the Astoi pass in Bumburate and Jinjiret Koh at 5am.
He said during the clashes, which continued for several hours, nine terrorists were killed and 42 others injured. The security forces cleared the areas and reinforcement were deployed there, he said, adding the situation was now under control in both the areas.
The martyred Chitral Scouts personnel are: Lance Naek Zulfiqar Ali (Booni Lasht), Sepoy Aurang Zeb (Pardan village of Yarkhun), both laid down their lives at Ostai post; Lance Naek Sher Nawaz (Khuz) and Lance Naek Shakirullah (Jinjiret) martyred at Jinjiret Koh.
Earlier, social media reported about the infiltration of the TPP terrorists into Lower Chitral’s border areas.
Pakistani Taliban (TTP) Spokesman and a key commander have claimed that TTP fighters in “large” number have entered Chitral district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which borders Afghanistan’s Kunar, Nuristan and Badakhshan provinces.
“An operation in Chitral district has been…
— The Khorasan Diary (@khorasandiary) September 6, 2023
The website, Khurasan Diary quotted Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistani Taliban (TTP)’s spokesman and a key commander as saying that its fighters in a large number had entered Lower Chitral from the neighboring districts of Afghanistan.
“An operation in Chitral district has been launched by the TTP and various villages have been captured. It started at 4am this morning. We will share pictures as well, as currently we are having poor internet issue there,” a key TTP commander told The Khorasan Diary on phone.
Chitral borders Afghanistan’s Kunar, Nuristan and Badakhshan provinces.
However, a senior Pakistani security official earlier said: “There has been firing from Afghanistan with movement of TTP across the border in Chitral. This morning, a border post came under fire but there was nothing significant. This is being retaliated. There is no truth of area being taken.”
Other media reports added that security forces have launched an operation against the terrorists in Jinjiret Koh, Ursoon and Astoi village of Bumburate. Roads to these areas have been closed.
Sources told ChitralToday that about a dozen of Chitral Scouts personnel had sustained injuries, mostly in Astoi village near Shekhan Deh in Bumburate, after about 200 to 300 terrorists crossed into Chitral side from Afghanistan in the mountainous area.
The intruding terrorists have suffered heavy casualties, but the terrorists were still inside the Pakistan territory, said the sources.
For the last about a week, the police in Lower Chitral have been on a high alert and also conducted a flag march and a joint search operation. In a statement, the police on Sunday said: “Under the prevailing security situation in the country, a joint search and strike operation was conducted in the Drosh subdivision of Lower Chitral.”
According to a spokesman, the police, Chitral Scouts, Special Branch, Counter-Terrorism Department and the Elite Force took part in the search operation carried out in the Ursoon, Soveer Gol and nearby mountainous areas.
Moreover, security has been further tightened by establishing more pickets in the entry and exit points of Lower Chitral and enhancing patrolling on the roads.
A flag march was also conducted by the police and Chitral Scouts from Drosh police station to the Lowari tunnel and Ursoon.
However, the district administration and police have denied entry of any militant into the area and said the steps were being taken keeping in view the prevailing security situation in the country.
A day earlier, the district administration of Lower Chitral also dismissed as baseless rumors social media reports about closure of schools in the border areas and said action would be taken against those trying to create fears among the people by spreading false news.
Taliban attack border villages of Lower Chitral from Afghanistan, four security personnel martyred – Chitral Today https://t.co/uKtdg4yqXX
— Chitral Today (@ChitralToday) September 6, 2023
Militant infiltrations in the past
In the past militants had entered many border areas, including the Kalash valley of Lower Chitral, from Afghanistan and targetted Pakistani security forces and even civilians.
In October 2009, Thanasis Lerounis, a Greek teacher, was kidnapped by the Taliban while running a welfare center for the Kalash people in Brun village of Bumburate.
Lerounis had lived in northern Pakistan since the mid-1990s before being kidnapped by about twenty gunmen from neighboring Afghanistan.
In August 2011, Hundreds of militants crossed the Afghan border and attacked three security checkpoints in Lower Chitral, killing 26 paramilitary soldiers and police.
In 2014, a video surfaced and was reported in mainstream media in which the Taliban threatened the Kalash tribe and the Ismaili Muslims of Chitral
In July 2016, militants infiltrated into the Sheikhan Deh area of Bumburate and taken away about 300 goats after killing two shepherds.
With the deployment of Pakistan army along the border in Lower Chitral down to Arandu, militant infiltrations into the area from Afghanistan had stopped for many years.
Sources told ChitralToday that movement of military personnel had earlier been observed after rumors of militants’ presence in mountainous border area of Bumburate, Jinjiret Koh and Ursoon a few days ago.