Taliban kill 9 Pakistani troops in North Waziristan ambush
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan killed nine Pakistani soldiers in an ambush in the Miramshah area of North Waziristan. From Reuters:
Army officials said the convoy was passing through Amin Picket, a security outpost on a hilltop outside Miranshah in North Waziristan, when "dozens" of militants attacked the troops.
"Militants hiding there opened fire at the soldiers with AK-47 assault rifles and RPG," a senior Pakistan army official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
"Three gunship choppers were called in but the militants even fired rockets at the choppers."
Nine troops, including an officer were killed, and 12 more injured in the attack. The army official said the troops had retaliated and killed "a number of militants."
Tribesmen in Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan and a known hotbed of militants, including the Taliban, al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network, said they saw army helicopter gunships pounding suspected militant positions in the town.
"As we were very close to the battlefield and could see from roofs of our houses, the security suffered heavy losses," said Razaullah Dawar, a local resident.
"Besides human losses, some of their heavy trucks and jeeps were burnt and were lying on the spot till evening."
The Reuters report notes that Hafiz Gul Bahadar, a powerful Taliban leader in North Waziristan who supports al Qaeda but is not a member of the Movement of Taliban in Pakistan, has denied responsibility for the attack:
"We have a peace accord with the government and condemn the killing of Pakistani soldiers in Waziristan. We will continue following the peace agreement with the government," he [Bahadar] said.
Bahadar shelters the Movement of Taliban in Pakistan, as does the Haqqani Network. Bahadar, the Haqqani Network, Mullah Nazir, and Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of Taliban in Pakistan, all belong to the Shura-e-Murakeba, an alliance that was formed in December 2011 with the support of al Qaeda.
The creation of the Shura-e-Murakeba was brokered by Abu Yahya al Libi, Ayman al Zawahiri's deputy; an al Qaeda leader known as Abdur Rehman Al Saudi; Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani Network; and Mullah Mansour, a senior Taliban leader who operates in eastern Afghanistan.
The Shura-e-Murakeba had agreed to halt attacks against Pakistani security forces in North and South Waziristan, and instead focus on efforts against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. But the Taliban have attacked Pakistani troops in North Waziristan since the agreement was signed. Most recently, on March 24, four Pakistani soldiers and 12 Taliban fighters were killed in a clash in South Waziristan. And on March 23, the Taliban killed a Frontier Corps trooper and his 10-year-old son in a bombing at a base in North Waziristan.