NWFP/FATA map. Red agencies/ districts openly controlled by the Taliban; purple is defacto control; yellow is under threat. Click map to view.
16 killed in suicide attack on military convoy in Swat; 20 police recruits killed in Dera Ismail Khan; the Waziristan Accord is over
One day after a Taliban suicide attack on a military convoy in North Waziristan, the Taliban hit hard in Dera Ismail Khan and Swat. In Swat, a pair of suicide bombers struck another military convoy. Sixteen were killed, including 12 Pakistani soldiers and four civilians, and 40 were wounded after the suicide team rammed their cars into a convoy near the town of Matta. In Dera Ismail Khan, a suicide bomber attacked near the main hall of the police recruitment center as about 200 recruits were being tested. Up to 20 recruits were killed and 50 wounded, the Kuwaiti News Agency reported.
Swat is the home of Maulana Fazlullah and his outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM – the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad’s Sharia Law) have blocked the Silk Road to China, and have attacked police and army units with ambushes and rocket, mortar, and suicide attacks. Fazlullah has incited the TNSM to violence since the Lal Masjid crisis began. The provincial government signed peace agreement with Fazlullah in May. Dera Ismail Khan borders the Taliban sanctuary of North Waziristan.
Yesterday’s suicide attack in North Waziristan killed 24 paramilitary soldiers of the Frontier Corps, and wounded 29. The Taliban has threatened to negate the September 2006 peace agreement. Despite having repeatedly violating the terms of the agreement, the Taliban claimed the government is at fault. A Taliban spokesman named Abdullah Farhad gave the government until July 15 (today) to withdraw from North Waziristan, the Daily Times reported. The truce has been officially terminated by the Taliban.
Elsewhere in the Northwest Frontier Province, a series of attacks and attempted bombings occurred against government forces. Three soldiers were wounded in an IED attack in Bannu. The Peshawar police found and a car bomb outside a bank, while troops discovered and defused explosives in North Waziristan.
Meanwhile, the new Taliban military leader in Afghanistan, has threatened further attacks against the West during a recent interview with a Pakistani journalist. “You will, God willing, be witness to more attacks. … We have many friends.”
Mansoor Dadullah stated the tribal areas are an ideal launch point for his attacks in both Afghanistan and against targets in the west. “It is very easy for us to go in and out of the tribal areas (at the Pak-Afghan border). It is no problem. … These Americans, Canadians, British and Germans come here to Afghanistan from faraway places … Why shouldn’t we go after them?”
The Taliban, al Qaeda, and their allies have launched a new offensive against the Pakistan government and military in the Northwest Frontier Province. The question that remains is how will the government of President Pervez Musharraf respond. When the military launched operations in Waziristan in 2004 and 2005, the Taliban and al Qaeda bloodied the nose of the Pakistani military, While the military claimed it lost 700 troops in the attacks, American military and intelligence sources have informed The Long War Journal the number of killed is closer to 3,000.
The defeat of the Pakistani military forced the government to sign a series of peace deals with the Taliban up and down the Northwest Frontier Province. The Taliban and al Qaeda have consolidated power in the region and opened training camps for terror and conventional operations. The Taliban’s power has expanded beyond the tribal areas and into the settled districts of the province, including Peshawar, the provincial capital.
If the government chooses to take on the Taliban and al Qaeda, the battles will be far bloodier than those from 2004 through 2006.