Hundreds of Pakistani villages from the Upper Dir district have formed a tribal militia in the wake of Friday’s mosque bombing, and have attacked several neighboring villages which are under the control of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The militia has destroyed at least 20 houses they believe had been housing militants, and have killed 13 suspected Taliban. The group has reportedly seized control of at least three villages, and is still fighting for control of two others.
Officials in the Pakistani government has praised the militia, with Interior Minister Rehman Malik touting it as “something very positive” that would “discourage the miscreants.” District police suggested that the government might reinforce the villagers with artillery and additional forces.
The military offensive in and around the Swat Valley (on the periphery of which Upper Dir lies) has driven nearly 3 million civilians from their homes and destroyed a region formerly prized as a tourist destination. The military has been claiming the offensive would be over in a “matter of days” for over a week, with no end yet in sight.