Ambush in North Waziristan kills 17 soldiers

NWFP/FATA map. Red agencies/ districts openly controlled by the Taliban; purple is defacto control; yellow is under threat. Click map to view.

13 soldiers wounded, 5 Taliban killed as Pakistan’s insurgency intensifies; Pakistan still attempts to appease the Taliban

Taliban fighters conducted a successful ambush against a Pakistani military convoy in the Madakhel region of North Waziristan. Seventeen Pakistani soldiers were killed and at least 13 were wounded after the Taliban initiated the ambush with a roadside bomb, then raked the convoy with small arms fire. Five Taliban fighters are reported to have been killed in the engagement.

Elsewhere in North Waziristan, seven people were wounded in two bomb attacks. The first bombing targeted a military convoy, while the second targeted the home of a former federal minister. On July 17, three soldiers were among four people killed in a suicide attack on a checkpoint in Mir Ali, while three other checkpoints were destroyed without casualties.

The most powerful Taliban commander in North Waziristan is Sadiq Noor, who runs a sharia court, collects taxes, and conducts operations against U.S. forces in Khost province in neighboring Afghanistan. Abu Kasha commands an al Qaeda contingent. An American intelligence source told The Long War Journal that Abu Kasha is the key link between al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis (main Shura or consultive body) and the Taliban. There are several al Qaeda and Taliban training camps in North Waziristan.

Today’s attack in North Waziristan is the latest in the Taliban offensive against the Pakistani government. Over the past five days, there have been major suicide attacks in Islamabad, North Waziristan, Swat, and Dera Ismail Khan. Yesterday’s suicide attack in the capital of Islamabad targeted Pakistan’s ousted chief justice. There have been numerous small arms and roadside bomb attacks against government forces over the same time period. The Taliban has intensified attacks against the army and Frontier Corps forces since the Pakistani government assaulted the Taliban-supporting Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, and killed Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, its leader.

The Pakistani military has lost well over 100 soldiers over the past week. During military operations in the tribal areas from 2004 to 2006, the government claimed it lost only 700 troops, while American military and intelligence sources tell The Long War Journal the number is closer to 3,000. Using the Pakistani estimate of 700, the military lost one-seventh the amount of forces in five days than it lost in over two years of operations. The power of the Taliban is clearly growing in the Northwest Frontier Province.

Yet the Pakistani government still insists on negotiating with the Taliban and seeks to restore the negated Waziristan Accord, which gave the Taliban de facto control over the tribal agency. On Tuesday the chief secretary of the Northwest Frontier Province held a meeting with provincial leaders and security officials and stated government troops would not be used to attack the Taliban, but are available to provide back up for local security forces.

“The meeting dispelled impression regarding apprehensions about a possible military operation in the Swat district,” Dawn reported. “The chief secretary informed the meeting that the President and the Prime Minister had categorically announced that there was no need of any such operation when the problems with the people like Maulana Fazlullah could be resolved through talks and traditional ‘Jirga.'” The Pakistani government signed a peace deal with Maulana Fazlullah, who has been launching attacks against government forces since the attack on the Lal Masjid.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • Jenn says:

    I will not hold my breathe for the day Pakistan wakes up and takes care of their problems. It seems the entire country has it’s collective head in the sand.
    Great Blog by the way.

  • templar knight says:

    Mr. Roggio, I had at first thought that the Taliban/AQ alliance might be satisfied with humiliating Musharraf, but as these attacks continue, and intensify, I wonder if perhaps we might see an offensive on the part of the Taliban to gain control over more area in the tribal regions.
    I noticed that you listed several areas on your map that were leaning toward total Taliban control, or were at risk for Taliban control. Do you think more areas are likely to fall to the Taliban/AQ? And what do you expect the US to do when confronted by a united de facto Taliban state in the NWFT? Realistically, is there anything we can do?

  • Plato says:

    I can only imagine since lying is so great a part of Moslem dealings with their enemies, one day someone says they’ll talk, the next day he’ll change his mind and kill again. It’s odd that more people don’t know that they’ve called ‘wolf’ so often, who can believe a thing they say?

  • davidp says:

    An optimistic interpretation is that the Pakistan government is keeping talking and negotiating so that when it takes military action, it has popular support because the rest of the country sees that the government tried everything else in good faith.
    It is notable that there does not seem to be outrage in Pakistan over “muslims killing muslims” when military convoys are attacked, only when militants are attacked in the Red Mosque.

  • GK says:

    “muslims killing muslims”
    There has never been a time when that was not happening. Hence, no outrage. It is, to them, normal.

  • Can we make up our mind?

    I don’t know if Mr. Hamilton reads the news, but what kind of situation does he think US troops would be going into in NW Pakistan?

  • Raj Kumar says:

    You are being very optimistic. The ‘green breards’ were created by the very same Government/society to fight in Afganistan & India.
    Now that both of those outlets are closed the Green men have nothing better to do then to blow up their old patrons.
    If you look at it from the view of the ‘green beards’ what they are fighting for is a ‘Islamic Pakistan’ and since Pakistan was supposed to be ‘islamic’ when it was created in 1947 they are quite right. The rest of Pakistani society better get used to these guys because the cause they are fighting for is totally just. They want ‘islamic’ sharia law to be implemented in Pakistan as it should have been in 1947.
    I persoanlly have no problem with this. The internal affairs of a country are the concern of the people who live their. My problem is that the ‘green men’ want me to be subjected to sharia law and that is something which I am not prepared to let them and they are subjecting me to random acts of violence in my hometown. So as long as the ‘green beards’ stick to their own lands I don’t have a problem.
    I have said repeatly that we now need to look at a way of putting a ‘exclusion’ zone around Pakistan with no movement of people in or out. If we don’t do this we will be subject to this ‘Green’ violence for a long time.

  • Doc says:

    The Waziristan Accord was an appeasement at best and a ridiculous publicity event at worst. It was terribly thought out and was just an act of throwing the government’s hands in the air. The Islamabad government admitting that the Pakistani military was impotent in the tribal areas has clearly emboldened the radical elements to attack. The accord assured them that the Pakistani military wants nothing to do with fighting in that area. Therefore, they feel they have a free pass to attack. The government has put itself in the position to have to demonstrate some backbone and to show there will be consequences to attacks on their troops. This unfortunately is going to cost a lot of lives. The significant presence of troops in the NWFP in 2006-2007 has since left and returned to the south. The airborne brigades were only there for earthquake relief. It will take a large redistribution of forces to qwell the increasing levels of attack. Unfortunately, there is no political solution as the leaders in the NWFP are irrational and intransigent about their goals.

  • Tony says:

    You speak of preventing people from moving in and out of Pakistan.
    Given the challenges the US faces securing its own border with Mexico, I see no way that 200 billion taxpayer dollars thrown at “securing” Pakistan, fencing in mountain peaks in the 15,000 foot range and blockading her teeming ports would even begin to do the job.
    I can’t describe that idea as anything but sheer fantasy.


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