Mangal Bagh escapes as LI HQ attacked
Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) chief Mangal Bagh on Monday escaped as the headquarters of his banned outfit came under attack from Army helicopters in Spin Qabar area in Bara subdivision of the Khyber Agency.
Sources said eight people, including two children, were injured in the attack. The LI, however, said three persons were killed and 13 more wounded. Its spokesman Misri Gul admitted at least one of the three dead was an LI activist, while the other two were civilians.
Among the 13 injured, the LI spokesman said, eight were volunteers of their organisation and five others were civilians. Terming the attack uncalled for, Misri Gul said their supporters and activists would stage protest demonstrations if the government continued such actions.
Asking the government to review its policy about the LI, he said they were patriotic and peace-loving people and did not want any confrontation with the government. Political administration officials remained tight-lipped about the attack and casualty figures. However, the paramilitary officials claimed killing 10 militants and injuring 15 others in the strike.
"Security forces have destroyed the main communication centre in the Khyber Agency, used by criminal elements," said a statement issued from the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) headquarters.
The statement said they had received confirmed intelligence reports that the militants present in the compound under attack were planning to target some areas in main cities. (APP adds: According to the FC sources, around 15 vehicles being used by the militants were also destroyed in shelling.)
Locals said Mangal Bagh and his Shura members were present inside the compound when it was targeted from the air. "Three helicopters twice attacked the LI centre at 2:30pm and 3:00pm and the shelling continued for 15 minutes each time," said a witness.
He said the LI activists surrounded Mangal Bagh soon after the first shot was fired from the air, and was escorted to a safer place.
Were they surrounded 'Saudi' style?
The witness said only eight people were injured and no one was killed. The injured also included two children, he added.
Stay here, kids, and FIGHT THE INFIDELS! I've...gotta go.
I'm sure Brave Jihadi Warrior feels quite heroic.
Delivering his routine speech on the LI's proscribed FM radio Monday night, Mangal Bagh said the attack had further strengthened his and his volunteers' faith in God. "They tried to kill us, but God is the biggest saviour who saved us," said Bagh. He added they never posed threat to the government or military officials, as the soldiers were free to go to any area in Bara sub-division.
In his nearly one hour address, which he delivers every night, Mangal Bagh did not mention the killing of anyone in the attack. The LI usually announces the timing and place of the funeral prayer of its activists who die in a clash or any other incident, but no such timing was announced.
Bagh said they were a peace-loving people, but the government was compelling them to take up arms by carrying out such "uncalled for" actions. Meanwhile, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Khyber Agency chapter condemned shelling by gunship helicopters in the area.
In a statement, JI chief in the agency Shah Faisal Afridi asked the government to refrain from killing its own people to appease its "foreign masters". He said the government, after the massacre of innocent people in Swat and Bajaur, had now started bloodshed of tribesmen in Khyber Agency.
Posted by: Fred