Militants blow up school in Khyber

Dawn.com, October 26, 2014

By Zahir Shah Sherazi

PESHAWAR: Militants blew up a school in Khyber tribal region’s Bara tehsil early on Monday.

The unknown attackers planted the explosives in the school building which detonated with a loud bang, completely destroying Government Primary School, Sultan Khel.

There was no loss of life reported in the incident which took place in Bara’s Akakhel area.

With the escalation in clashes between security forces and Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) militants along with intensified shelling of insurgent hideouts, Bara residents were left with no other option but to leave their homes in desperation and chaos and despite the imposition of a curfew.

Pakistan’s military launched the operation named ‘Khyber-1’ last week with air strikes against LI hideouts in areas under the Mangal Bagh-led group’s control in Tirah and Bara.

The latest operation was launched amidst Zarb-i-Azb, a full-fledged military operation being conducted by the army against Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militants in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Khyber is among Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts near the Afghan border, rife with homegrown insurgents and foreign militants. These are also home to religious extremist organisations including Al Qaeda.

The plains of Bara hold strategic significance for militant groups as they connect the agency to the outskirts of Peshawar. The area was being used by militants to put pressure on the provincial capital. In recent weeks, police and military posts in and around Peshawar have come under attack.

The key area also straddles the Nato supply line into Afghanistan.

Khyber also links several agencies to each other, serving as a north-south route within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). The region has been long fought over by a mix of militant organisations, including TTP, Ansarul Islam and LI.