Taliban capture 12 policemen in Khyber


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.



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban capture 12 policemen in Khyber"

Posted by NS at March 29, 2009 2:08 PM ET:

Less than one month ago, a senior 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.

Col.Saifullah seems to have learnt something from Baghdad Bob.

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.
No surprise here - especially if you stage manage these "offensives".

The Paki military has been weaving the jihadist web for the longest time - i am really interested in seeing how all this ends. But i also have a bad feeling about it.

Posted by KnightHawk at March 29, 2009 5:14 PM ET:

"Baghdad Bob" - I really miss his stand-up act (otherwise known as press briefings), was a daily comic relief.

Doesn't sound like these police put up much of a fight, though perhaps they were simply out classed.

Posted by Marlin at March 30, 2009 12:53 PM ET:

The security forces respond in the Khyber Agency. I wish I could believe it would actually make a difference.

Security forces arrested dozens of militants from different parts of Khyber Agency and seized a cache of arms, and drugs from their possession.

[...]

They said that the seized arms include 82 MM Mortar, two LPG, six Kalashnikovs, two guns, three rocket launchers, two 127 AA machineguns and two Indian made barrels.

Geo TV: Dozens militants arrested in Khyber Agency