Attack occurs days after Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud vows to retaliate with suicide bombers
The Pakistani government continues to lose control over the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. The Taliban and al Qaeda have attacked a Pakistani military convoy with suicide car bomb near Mir Ali in North Waziristan. Four Pakistani soldiers and a woman were killed and twenty soldiers were wounded after the suicide bomber rammed the military convoy at the Khajori checkpoint, just east of Mir Ali, a Taliban stronghold.
The attack occurred just one week after the Pakistani government struck a Taliban and al Qaeda training camp in the Zamazola region in South Waziristan. Baitullah Mehsud, the most powerful Taliban commander in South Waziristan, promised retaliation for the Pakistani strike on Zamazola. “They launch airstrikes on us and we respond with suicide attack,” said Baitullah,
Just days ago, in an interview with the Daily Times Baitullah promised to ramp up attacks in Afghanistan. “This year’s spring offensive will be fought harder than before as we want to build on last year’s successes,” he said. Baitullah operates openly in South Waziristan, outside of the writ of government law.
The Taliban denied involvement in the suicide strike, reports Dawn, issuing statements “from the security office of the Taliban, North Waziristan.”
Militants in the North Waziristan promptly denounced the incident and claimed they were not involved in the attack. A statement issued from the security office of the Taliban, North Waziristan, said: “We (Taliban) have no hand in the bomb attack and we want to keep the peace agreement intact and the government should also act upon the deal”. Local Taliban leaders, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mufti Saddiq Noor, immediately called a Shura meeting in Miramshah to discuss the situation. MNA Maulvi Nek Zaman also joined the session later, the statement said.
Taliban offices opened immediately after the signing of the Waziristan Accord in September of 2006.
Just before the suicide attack, Northwest Frontier Province Governor Jan Aurakzai pleaded to keep the Waziristan Accord intact. “This is the last chance for ensuring a peaceful atmosphere in the area and any harm caused to it either intentionally or unintentionally would surely be a big disaster,” said Aurakzai.
Support for maintaining the Waziristan Accord also came from Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of the Muttahida Mujlis Amal, the dominant pro Taliban political party in the NWFP. Rehman admits he participated in the agreement that ceded control of North Waziristan to the Taliban. “I played a key role in making the agreement possible… and I will play a key role in sustaining it.” Rehman, along with Mullah Omar, al Qaeda Shura members Abu Hammam al-Saudi, Abu Nasir and Yahya Abu Lais, Shaikh Khalid Habib al Shami, the commander of al Qaeda’s Brigade 055, and a host of others supported the creation of the Waziristan Accord as it provides for an al Qaeda and Taliban safe haven on the Afghan border.
See The Fall of Waziristan: An Online History for more information.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.