Taliban suicide bomber targets police in Swat; kills 30

Map of the northern regions of the NWFP, including Swat.

Just days after the Pakistani government deployed additional paramilitary troops to Swat in the Northwest Frontier Province, the Taliban attacked police in the town of Mingora. The attack, which hit a convoy of Frontier Constabulary police forces, killed at least 30 and wounded 17. Over ten shops were destroyed, likely due to the secondary explosions cause by the ammunition of the truck detonating.

“Police officer Amjad Khan told the Associated Press the blast hit a platoon of 43 Frontier Constabulary troops in a truck near the police district headquarters,” CNN reported. AFP stated the likely cause of the explosion was a suicide bomber. The Pakistani Interior Ministry appears to be willing to chalk the explosion up as a munitions accident.

“Thirty people were killed in the explosion including 17 paramilitary soldiers. The damage was high because the truck was packed with ammunition,” the official, who asked not to be named, told AFP. Security sources said a suicide bomber had detonated his explosives near the truck, but the government said the vehicle’s cargo could have triggered the explosion. “The nature of the blast is not clear and it is being ascertained. There was ammunition in the truck which caused the damage,” interior ministry spokesman Javed Cheema told AFP.

Over the past several days, the provincial government deployed over 3,000 police and paramilitary forces in an attempt to curb the power of radical Taliban cleric Maulana Qazi Fazlullah. The government admitted that Swat has fallen under control of Fazlullah’s Taliban forces.

Fazlullah’s Taliban did not wait for the government to act, but took the first shot. A day ago, Fazlullah said if he or his forces were attacked, his Taliban “commandos” would “kill many people.” He advised his forces to “attack security forces and members of a Swat jirga.” The government conducted negotiations with Fazlullah in the past and essentially granted control of the settled district to him after signing an agreement in May. Fazlullah agreed to give up his illegal FM radio broadcast, permit polio vaccinations and stop shutting down schools for girls, but immediately reneged on the “peace accord.”

See The Fall of the Northwest Frontier Province for the full history of the rise of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal regions and beyond.

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Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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