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THE STANS
11 militants killed in Orakzai
by Staff Writers
Islamabad, Pakistan (UPI) Mar 8, 2013


Pakistan seize cache of arms, detain militants from Quetta
Quetta, Pakistan (AFP) March 8, 2013 - Pakistani paramilitary forces on Friday said they captured a large quantity of arms and detained eight sectarian militants from the troubled southwestern city of Quetta.

Quetta, the capital of oil and mineral rich Baluchistan province which borders Afghanistan and Iran, was recently hit by two sectarian bomb attacks killing nearly 200 Shiites Muslims.

Al-Qaeda linked Sunni militant organisation Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed both attacks and threatened further killings of Shiites.

"Our troops raided a house in the Dasht suburb of Quetta and recovered a large quantity of arms and ammunition dumped underground in the courtyard of the house," Colonel Maqbool Ahmad, a senior official of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, told reporters.

Ahmad, who supervised the raid, said they also detained eight militants from the house in Dasht, 25 kilometres (16 miles) south of Quetta city.

"The arrested persons must have connections with sectarian organisations and may lead us to unearth terrorists involved in terrorist activities in Quetta," he added.

The arms and ammunition seized included 120 kilograms (260 pounds) of explosives, 1,000 explosive detonators, guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

LeJ emerged as a spin-off from mujahideen groups which were funded by the US Central Intelligence Agency and backed by the Pakistani intelligence services during the 1980s war against Soviet troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.

An attack on Sunday in a mainly Shiite area in Pakistan's largest city Karachi killed 50 people, bringing to more than 250 the number killed in four major bombings on the minority community in Pakistan since January 10.

Authorities routinely arrest suspects in the aftermath of attacks but the detentions generally lead to few convictions.

Pakistani security forces have killed 11 insurgents in Pakistan's Orakzai northwestern tribal region.

Orakzai is one of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous northwestern tribal regions, where Pakistani Taliban and militants linked to al-Qaida hold sway.

Pakistani security forces killed the militants in Ghundamela tribal region when security forces took control of the insurgent's hideout.

In a further sign of the region's instability, even as Pakistani troops prevailed against the insurgent base a remote-control bomb attack targeted a security forces vehicle in Orakzai's Nadirmela region, killing a soldier and wounding three others, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported Friday.

Besides the Orakzai operation, Pakistan security forces targeted militant factions in the Khyber tribal region's Tirah Valley, using fighter jets to attack positions held by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and Ansarul Islam militants in the Khyber's Bar Qamber Khel area.

Pakistan's Orakzai tribe lives primarily in the Orakzai and Khyber agencies, with some scattered in the country's Kohat and Peshawar districts.

While the Orakzais are predominantly Sunni Muslims, they include Shiite Muslims, primarily in the Muhammad Khels clan. The Sunni and Shiite communities are separated by the Mastura River.

The Orakzai tribes take their name, "lost son" ("Wrak Zoi"), from a historical legend about their common ancestor, Sikandar Shah, an Iranian prince.

Pakistan's Orakzai agency is rife with insurgent groups. These include the Abdullah Azzam Brigade, a shadowy group apparently composed of Taliban members from the Commander Tariq Group, who merged with some Arakzai elements of Ayman al Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

Another militant group is the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. Formed in 1996, LiJ is an anti-Shiite terror group that has integrated with al-Qaida and the Taliban in Pakistan's tribal areas, which began as an offshoot of the sectarian radical group Sipah-e-Sahaba.

A third group operating in the Agency is Commander Tariq Group, considered the most powerful contemporary terrorist group in Orakzai.

The Ghazi Force also operates in in Orakzai. Named after Ghazi Abdul Rasheed, the brother of former Red Mosque leader Maulana Abdullah Aziz, Ghazi was killed when Pakistani troops assaulted the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.

The Ghazi Force operates a training camp in Guljo in Hangu and has conducted suicide attacks in Islamabad. The Ghazi Force is led by Maulana Niaz Raheem, a former student of the Red Mosque.

Yet another militant group present in Orakzai is the Hakeemullah Mehsud, which operates in the Lower Kurram Valley, where most of the inhabitants are Sunnis.

Despite their presence, Orakzai inhabitants have had a wary view toward the Pakistani Taliban, where local opinions have traditionally been neutral to unfavorable.

Pakistani Taliban factions moved into the Agency by force in 2007 and the following year, local residents formed militias against the Taliban but abandoned the effort a few months later following a lack of support by the Pakistani government.

In May 2008 a Taliban jirga ordered all non-governmental organizations to leave the agency and banned girls' schools; further alienating local residents.

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