Taliban suicide bomber kills 17 in Pakistan's Swat district
A Taliban suicide bomber struck in northwestern Pakistan for the third day straight. Seventeen Pakistanis were killed and more than 20 wounded after two bombings in the settled district of Swat.
Sixteen Pakistanis were killed and 20 were wounded after a suicide bomber detonated at a police checkpoint. A second bombing killed one policeman. Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan credited the Taliban with the attack. He warned suicide strikes would continue until the military end operations in Swat and Bajaur.
The military has been fighting the Taliban in Swat, led by Mullah Fazlullah, in Swat since November 2007. The government signed a peace agreement with Fazlullah in May agreeing to release prisoners and implement sharia, or Islamic law.
The cease-fire was short lived, and the Taliban restarted attacks after claiming prisoners were being released too slowly and promises to implement sharia were not being carried out.
Hundreds of Pakistani soldiers and policemen have been killed in Swat since January 2007. The Taliban have destroyed 125 schools in Swat in the past 10 months and have bombed the hotel and chair lifts at Swat's ski resort.
Elsewhere in Pakistan's northwest, fighting was reported in Hangu, Peshawar, and Bajaur. In Peshawar, one policeman and one civilian were killed in Taliban rocket and small-arms attacks.
Security forces killed 16 Taliban fighters, including two Chechens, after ambushing a Taliban convoy. Two vehicles were packed with explosives and two suicide bombers were believed to be among the fighters.
Eighteen Taliban fighters were reported killed during a series of clashes in Bajaur, where the military initiated an offensive more than a week ago. Hundreds of Taliban fighters and scores of soldiers have been killed and scores more captured.
The suicide campaign is underway
The Taliban's suicide campaign is in full swing. The Swat attack is the third major suicide bombing in four days, and the fifth since Aug. 12.
A pair of bombers detonated outside the main gates of the Pakistani Ordnance Facility in Wah in Punjab province on Aug. 21. The day prior, a suicide bomber detonated in a hospital in Dera Ismail Khan. Thirty Pakistani civilians were killed and 25 were wounded.
The Taliban have repeatedly threatened to reinitiate suicide and bombing attacks throughout Pakistan if the government did not cease military operations in Swat and Bajaur. Baitullah Mehsud, the commander of the Pakistani Taliban, had previously threatened wage "jihad" and turn the provinces of Sindh and Punjab "into a furnace" if the operations did not cease.
The Taliban cowed the Pakistani government into signing peace agreements after a vicious suicide and military campaign in 2007 and early 2008 that claimed thousands of Pakistani lives.