Taliban commander killed in clash in South Waziristan
Red agencies/ districts controlled by the Taliban; purple is defacto control; yellow is under threat
The Pakistani military has killed a senior Afghan Taliban commander during a clash in the tribal agency of South Waziristan. Saifur Rahman Mansour, the Taliban commander during Operation Anaconda, was killed in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency, Iranian Press TV reported.
"Mansour was a big time Taliban commander in 2001-2002 and led the battle at Operation Anaconda in the Shah Vali Kot Valley," said Matt Dupee, a contributor to The Long War Journal and Afgha.com. "He was allegedly paid not to interfere with the voting process in 2004 (his base is in the east, Paktia (Zurmat district)) and ceased his activities in 2005. The Taliban subsequently removed him from the Rahbari Shura following rumors of his split. In 2006 he restarted his militant activities and became a part of the Peshawar Shura (really based out of Waziristan) once again and launched an offensive in the eastern areas alongside the Haqqani network. His main skill was commanding men on the battlefield and his in-depth knowledge of military tactics and guerilla warfare."
Mansour's father was governor of Paktia province before being murdered by a rival warlord. He commanded Taliban troops against the Northern Alliance during the Taliban rule of Afghanistan. He "was wounded three times in three wars - against the Soviets in the 1980s, in the fighting among warlords of the early 1990s, and on behalf of the Taliban - and has a maimed hand as a result," the Los Angeles Times reported in 2002.
It is unclear when Mansour was killed. There were a series of battles in South Waziristan over the past week. A Pakistani security source told Daily Times the military killed over 50 Taliban fighters during a major assault on the Ladha Fort in South Waziristan during Wednesday and Thursday. Upwards of 300 Taliban fighters are believed to have attacked the base. The Pakistani military did not confirm the casualties, but said the Taliban suffered "heavy casualties in the encounter."
Clashes between the Taliban and the military were also reported in the Shawal region of South Waziristan on Saturday. The military "intensified shelling and bombed hideouts of militant commander Qari Hussain in Makin area," and also targeted tribal areas run by Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud. Baitullah is currently fighting a tribal feud with Taliban leader Mullah Nazir, who has close links to al Qaeda.
While the Pakistani military has stepped up activity in South Waziristan, negotiations with the Taliban have been initiated in neighboring North Waziristan. The military has withdrawn from "key checkposts" and has initiated negotiations with the Taliban. "There are signs that the two sides are working on something similar to a peace deal," a tribal source told Daily Times. "But we don't know how close they are to the deal because of secret negotiations."
"The situation has improved and the withdrawal of troops from certain checkposts is part of the re-alignment," said Major General Waheed Arshad. "Barriers and strict checking at checkposts were abolished," the Daily Times reported, and the paramilitary Frontier Corps, which has been savaged by the Taliban during attacks over the past year, has taken control of the region.
The North Waziristan Accord, which ceded control of the tribal district to the Taliban in September 2006, fell apart during the summer of 2007, and the Taliban continued to attack paramilitary forces and the regular army. The Taliban and al Qaeda run 29 training camps in North and South Waziristan.
See The Fall of Northwestern Pakistan for more information on the Taliban and al Qaeda's rise in the Northwest Frontier Province and beyond.