Fifteen Taliban may have been killed outside Spin Boldak; Further news on North & South Talibanistan
The influx of Taliban fighters from the Pakistani side of the border has long been a source of concern for the Afghan Government and Coalition forces. Today, the Afghan National Army reported it intercepted a Taliban raiding party crossing the border at Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, and killed fifteen Taliban during the fighting. An Afghan Army officer claims Mullah Shien, a mid-level Taliban commander, was killed during the engagement, and observed four Taliban were observed crossing back into Pakistan. Naimat Khan Noorzai, the deputy governor of Kandahar and a member of the Noorzai tribe, states those killed were not Taliban, but members of a local tribe who “were killed in cold blood because of a tribal conflict.” The Afghan government has opened an investigation. There is also the possibility this is related to Afghanistan’s drug trade.
The border crossing at Spin Boldak sits astride a main roed between Kandahar city and Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan. al Qaeda and the Taliban are believed to be operating from Balochistan, and the province is mired in a renewed insurgency. Balochi tribal chief Nawab Akbar Bugti is believed to be directing the insurgency from “a series of large caves in the mountains of Dera Bugti with several thousand armed tribesmen.” Yet another gas pipeline was attacked by the Balochi insurgency.
The Guardian reports the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of North & South Waziristan are now essentially under Taliban control. The report essentially matches our analysis of the situation in Waziristan which started in January and continued throughout the month of March. Adding insult to injury, the Taliban destroyed a government sponsored radio tower in the garrison city of Wana, South Waziristan. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government claims “foreign terrorists not to be given amnesty again” (note the again), it is prepared to “set up peace committees in Waziristan” and that the “Al-Qaeda network has been dismantled and the current anti-state activities are sporadic and of separate nature.”
Pakistan has essentially lost control of its border provinces in the tribal regions, and the renewed insurgency in Balochistan will only bleed off more forces needed to reestablish control in Waziristan – assuming the government has the will to do so. In the mean time, al Qaeda and the Taliban are arming, training and pouring forces into Afghanistan in an attempt to derail the political progress and fragile security situation in the nascent democracy.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.