Click map for full view. The Peshawar-Khyber region. Map created by Bill Raymond for The Long War Journal.
The Taliban captured 12 policemen after attacking a police outpost in the Khyber tribal agency in Pakistan’s northwest. The attack capped a weekend of violence in the region surrounding Peshawar, the provincial capital of the Northwest Frontier Province.
A Taliban force surrounded the police outpost, disarmed the policemen, and kidnapped them, Rahat Gul, a spokesman for the Khyber administration told Reuters.
“Militants came to the Shin Qamar checkpost before dawn and disarmed our policemen and then bundled them into vehicles,” Gul said. “We’ve launched a search but there’s been no progress.”
The Taliban have staged two other major attacks in Khyber since March 27. A Taliban suicide bomber detonated in the middle of a packed mosque in the Jamrud district in Pakistan’s Khyber agency. More than 70 people have been reported killed and another 125 have been wounded. Several police and military officials were killed in the attack.
The Taliban also damaged a vital bridge in the Landi Kotal region of Khyber. The bridge was shut down, which has forced NATO to halt its supply convoys that move through Khyber into Afghanistan.
The Taliban are seeking to strangle NATO’s main supply route into Afghanistan as well as conquer the Peshawar region. NATO’s most vital resupply route for its forces in Afghanistan stretches from the Pakistani port city of Karachi to Peshawar, then through the Khyber Pass to Kabul. More than 70 percent of NATO supplies and 40 percent of its fuel moves through Peshawar.
Heavy fighting has also taken place in neighboring Peshawar and the Mohmand tribal agency. A large Taliban force overwhelmed security guards at a trucking terminal on the outskirts of Peshawar and destroyed 12 vehicles destined for Afghanistan.
In Mohmand, security forces launched an operation to root out Taliban forces in the region bordering the districts of Peshawar and Charsadda. The Pakistani military claimed 26 Taliban were killed during the fighting, which consisted largely of artillery barrages and airstrikes.
Less than one month ago, a senior Pakistani officer said the Taliban was defeated during a series of security operations in Mohmand. Colonel Saif Ullah claimed the region is “under the control of law enforcement agencies” on March 1.
The government and military have launched several offensives in an attempt to drive out the Taliban in Peshawar and Khyber, but Pakistanis living in the area say the efforts have been unsuccessful.
Earlier this year, the military claimed that Peshawar has been freed from a Taliban siege, but a recent series of deadly attacks against police stations and outposts in the city and surrounding areas indicates that the Taliban still have a grip on the region.