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80 killed in clashes between rival militant groups in Pak

Rezaul H Laskar,
Islamabad, Jan 28 - Ten rebels died in fighting today between the Taliban and a pro-government militant group in Khyber tribal region of northwest Pakistan, taking the death toll in four days of clashes to more than 80.

Both Taliban militants and members of the pro-government Ansar-ul-Islam were among those killed in fighting since yesterday. Several rebels were injured in clashes in Maidan area of Khyber Agency.

At least 81 people had been killed so far in clashes between the Ansar-ul-Islam and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Frontier Post newspaper reported on its website.

Ten people were killed in clashes today. Thousands of families had been displaced due to the fighting, the report said. Ansar-ul-Islam militants were attacking Taliban at regular intervals at Senghakh hilltop, which separates Adamkhel area of Tirah Valley from Arghinjo area in Orakzai.

The clashes erupted early on Friday morning when the Taliban attacked the other group's positions in the region between Arghinjo and Tirah Valley and took over five hilltops.

The Ansar-ul-Islam hit back and recaptured four hilltops the same day. Media reports said a faction of the Taliban led by warlord Tariq Afridi had established its control in the area and expelled the Ansar-ul-Islam from one of its bases.

Ansar-ul-Islam chief Qazi Mehboob has declared a jihad against the Taliban and threatened to chase its fighters from Khyber and Orakzai Agencies. Both groups were using heavy weapons, including mortars and rockets, and a number of houses have been damaged.

Reports said a large number of people had fled the region to escape the fighting. The Taliban reportedly torched three vehicles carrying food and supplies to Bagh, which is a stronghold of the rival group.

Another militant group active in Khyber Agency, Lashkar-e-Islam, has said it is not involved in the clashes. In the past, hundreds have died in clashes between the Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansar-ul-Islam. PTI

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