South Waziristan Taliban free captive tribal leaders
The Taliban in South Waziristan are attempting to show who is really in charge in the lawless tribal agency after the Pakistani Army offensive that was launched in October 2009. Last week, the Taliban kidnapped 23 tribal leaders after they met with General Kayani, the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff, during his visit to South Waziristan. From Dawn:
Taliban militants on Friday freed 23 tribesmen whom they had detained this month for meeting Pakistan's army chief in the country's tribal belt.
Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told AFP from an undisclosed location that a militant "court" freed the 23 tribesmen after "they swore on the Holy Quran that they would never support the government in future".
Officials had said 23 elders from the district of South Waziristan were summoned by the Taliban to Razmak, a town in neighbouring North Waziristan, on December 17 and had not returned.
The Pakistani military has claimed success in South Waziristan and top US military commanders have touted Pakistan's counterinsurgency efforts there, but a confidential assessment by the US government (which echoed a report we wrote a year ago) said the Pakistani military merely owns the major roads and towns, while the Taliban are still free to operate outside those areas. The top leaders of the Taliban in South Waziristan remain alive.