The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan killed 31 soldiers and Frontier Corps troops, as well as five civilians, in a pair of attacks in the country over the past two days.
In one of the attacks, which took place today in Rawalpindi, the garrison city where the Army General Headquarters is based, a suicide bomber killed “13 persons including 8 Security Forces personnel, 3 school children and 2 other civilians” in an attack at a bazaar, according to the Inter Services Public Affairs.
Yesterday, the Taliban killed 23 security personnel, including paramilitary 15 Frontier Corps troops and five regular army soldiers, in a bombing that targeted a military convoy in Bannu. It appears that a bomb was planted on a truck that was rented by the Frontier Corps to transport troops to the town of Ramzak in North Waziristan.
The Taliban claimed, however, that the Bannu attack, which they said was executed to avenge the death of former emir Hakeemullah Mehsud, who was killed last year in a US drone strike, was carried out by a suicide bomber. Additionally, the Taliban said they will continue to fight for the “implementation of sharia,” or Islamic law, and the establishment of the Caliphate. In the same breath, the Taliban said they were sincere about peace talks with the government. From the Daily Times:
“TTP [Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] courageously accepts responsibility of attack on security forces in Bannu cantt that was carried out by one of the brave comrade of TTP and killed army personnel who were ready to subject cruelty on Muslims of Waziristan,” said a TTP statement. The group paid tribute to Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman, who, it said, played the leading role in shifting this “Renaissance of Caliphate (Ihya e Khilafat)” war in every nook and corner of the country.
“TTP wants to give clear-cut message to people of Pakistan that our war is for implementation of shariah and we will never give up principles of shariah,” the statement read. Talking to media from an undisclosed location, TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid and senior leader Azam Tariq saidTaliban were ready for meaningful, serious and result-oriented dialogue. They said they believe in the utility of dialogue and had never refused negotiations. They said they rejected the dialogue earlier because, according to them, the government was neither sincere nor powerful enough. They said if the government wanted to create a peaceful and trustworthy environment, it would have to announce a ceasefire. In such a case, they said they can also review their activities.
Sami ul Haq, a Pakistani politician and cleric who helped found the Afghan Taliban and runs the second largest radical madrassa in the country, welcomed the Pakistan’s Taliban’s peace offering. Because peace deals with the Taliban have worked so well in the past, at least from Haq’s perspective.