Fighting continues in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province
NWFP/FATA map. Red agencies/ districts openly controlled by the Taliban; purple is defacto control; yellow is under threat. Click map to view.
Taliban maintain attack tempo as the government scrambles to save the Waziristan Accord
The Taliban attacks against military and government targets throughout the Northwest Frontier Province have remained steady despite government efforts to renegotiate the Waziristan Accord. The largest attack occurred in the settled district of Bannu, which borders North and South Waziristan, where the Taliban and al Qaeda are their strongest. Taliban fighters launched a rocket attack into the heart of Bannu City, killing 14 and wounding 35. A hotel, a government official's residence, and a bazaar were hit in the rocket barrage, The News reported. The Bannu strike was but the most high profile attack to occur in the NWFP over the past 24 hours.
In Bajaur, where Faqir Mohammed and his banned Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM - the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad's Sharia Law) rule, two government soldiers were kidnapped while manning a checkpost and beheaded. "The militants slit their throats and dumped their bodies at the bazaar with the note written in Pashto attached," the Daily Times reported. "Those who support Musharraf and Bush will meet this fate," the note said. Another man in Bajaur was accused of being a U.S. spy and beheaded last week, Dawn reported. The TNSM has direct links with al Qaeda and supported the radical clerics of the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad.
In North Waziristan, where talks between the government and the Taliban have stalled, multiple attacks against military and police checkposts are underway. An attack on a checkpost in Dattakhel resulted in four soldiers killed, while another checkpost was destroyed in Miramshah. Seven soldiers were wounded in two separate roadside bombing attacks. In neighboring Tank, police dismantled a large improvised explosive device placed on a road to Dera Ismail Khan.
The government negotiates with the Taliban in North Waziristan despite being the target of repeated attacks. The Taliban have demanded the military dismantle all checkposts, a demand the government initially refused but now seem willing to concede. "The government insisted that security checkposts would be removed only if tribal militants guaranteed peace in the region," the Daily Times reported. "The pro-Taliban members of the jirga were asked if they could offer guarantees on behalf of the militants but the members said they would talk to the Taliban leadership to secure the assurance," a member of the Jirga and a government official the Daily Times.
The Taliban refused to honor the spirit and the letter of the Waziristan Accord. Just days after the deal was inked, the Taliban in North Waziristan conducted a campaign of assassinations, attacked government forces, established a parallel government, opened recruiting offices, collected taxes, and launched attacks into Afghanistan. Yet the government is pleading with the Taliban to restore a deal that the Taliban never honored in the first place. And all the while, al Qaeda is building its command, control, training and recruiting programs in the region to attack Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and the West.