Cellphone service restored in Hangu after 26 days
By: Abdul Sami Paracha
KOHAT: The authorities restored cellular phone service in Hangu district of Kohat division on Tuesday after keeping it suspended for 26 days for launching a military operation in restive Kurram Agency.
All the cellular phone networks were closed down in Hangu to disable contact between various militant groups as a precautionary measure for smooth transportation of soldiers to Kurram.
An official told this scribe on condition of anonymity that the process of shifting troops to restive areas was completed. The Frontier Corps crossed the insecure part of Hangu-Parachinar Highway safely, he added.
The militants hiding near the highway had been attacking army convoys and passenger vehicles since 2008. They had killed and kidnapped scores of passengers. The passengers have to either take a long route between Kurram Agency and Khyber Agency or use air service, which has been started keeping in view problems of the locals.
The militants launch attacks from their safe havens in Masozai area, located between Orakzai Agency and Kurram Agency. In case of intense operation in Orakzai Agency, militants shift to Kurram Agency through this village.
The presence of militants in the area was considered a major hurdle in launching an operation in Orakzai Agency and making of the highway safe. The operation in Orakzai was launched in March 2010 with a completion target of March 2011. The former political agent of Orakzai Agency, Riaz Mehsud, told this correspondent few weeks ago that the operation could not succeed unless the security forces plugged the tribal village of Masozai, used by militants for transportation and hiding in lower Kurram Agency.
“So far the tribal lashkar has taken control of Masozai village and fierce fighting is going on between tribesmen and militants.
The tribesmen have suffered many losses and dozens of their houses have been set alight by terrorists. The lashkar has claimed to have killed 30 to 40 militants in the area and to some extent the strategy has proven fruitful,” he said.
He said that now security forces could launch operation easily and enter the restive areas in Kurram Agency, which were being pounded with artillery from Shna Warai area of Hangu district. The security forces were targeting the hideouts of militants in lower Kurram Agency by jetfighters to pave the way for entering the region for launching the operation.
Mr Mehsud said that the border between Kurram Agency and Afghanistan had not been sealed but forces on both sides had been alerted and the Durand Line might be sealed if necessary. Local tribesmen, however, said that security forces had surrounded Mali Khel area and operation was launched there on Aug 6.