Pakistani Taliban destroy paramilitary fort in Hangu

The Taliban continue to rampage in the settled district of Hangu in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province. In the latest assault, a Taliban force overran a Frontier Constabulary fort, looted weapons, explosives, and ammunition, then destroyed the outpost.

An estimated 250 Taliban surrounded the fort in the Shinawarai region in Hangu on Monday night and ordered the paramilitary troops to leave. Dawn reported that the paramilitaries were granted “safe passage,” but Geo TV reported 15 troops were killed and five set free. After the troops abandoned the fort, it was looted. The Taliban then set explosive charges and detonated after abandoning the post.

Monday’s destruction of the Shinawarai fort is the latest in a series of Taliban strikes in Hangu over the past week. The fighting began on July 8, after a police force detained seven Taliban fighters after a clash in Hangu. Security forces found weapons and explosives as well as “poisonous injections.” Rafiuddin, a senior Taliban leader and a deputy of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, was captured during the raid. Rafiuddin’s group is based out of South Waziristan, which borders Hangu to the south.

The Taliban then launched a siege on the police station where Rafiuddin and the other fighters were held. A force comprised of 400 Taliban fighters surrounded the police station, but dispersed after a Pakistani Army battalion was dispatched to lift the siege.

Before retreating, the Taliban kidnapped anywhere from 16 to 35 people in Hangu, including security officials, and then threatened to execute them if Rafiuddin were not released from custody. Mullah Omar, a spokesman for Baitullah Mehsud, said the executions would start on July 12, but there is no indication the Taliban followed through on the threat.

On July 12, 22 Pakistanis, including 15 soldiers, were killed after the Taliban ambushed a three-vehicle convoy traveling in the region.

The Pakistani military is said to have launched a counteroffensive “to trace the culprits” of the convoy attack. The military is using artillery indiscriminately in its hunt for the Taliban forces. There are no report of Taliban casualties or of the recovery of hostages.

The tribal leaders in Hangu are urging an end to the operation and lobbying with the government for the release the captive Taliban fighters and their leader. “The jirga members want the government to allow them to take a peace message to Taliban commander Mullah Sanaullah and bring him to the negotiation table,” Dawn reported.

The call for negotiations with the Taliban in Hangu is part of a government-sponsored initiative to cut deals with extremists in exchange for an end to attacks in Pakistan. Peace agreements have been signed with the Taliban in North Waziristan, Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Malakand, Mohmand, and Khyber. Negotiations are under way in South Waziristan, Kohat, and Mardan. The Taliban have violated the terms of these agreements in every region where accords have been signed.

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

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  • don juice says:

    u gots to be kidding me right? let me get this straight the taliban told the paramilitary to leave their post and they complied? it seems the taliban rule pakistan and pakistan need our help but they refuse to ask cause they trying to act like they have everything under control but i feel for the nukes seriously cause soon if we dont strike them with boots on the ground then the taliban gonna ask for them and the military gonna say “sure why not”

  • Batman says:

    Seriously, aren’t Pakistan’s nukes now at least as much if not a far greater danger than Iran, or what Saddam was believed to have?

  • Zarin says:

    Hangu district, orakzai agency and lower kurram are the areas where militants have established netwok and training camps for fresh recruits. Here they started sectarian war against shias just for attracting local sunni population towards them. They gathered from the whole FATA and specially those international terrorists who were unable to stay in waziristan came here to enjoy this new safe heaven. There is good number of peoples from punjab province and kashmir and all of them are wanted activistas of outlawed sectarian groups like sepah-e-sahaba, lashkar-e -jahangvi and lashkar-e-tayeba.All these groups are related to main stream terrorist network.Most of them are wanted in punjab province for target killing of shias and othera are wanted either in pakistani part or indian part of kashmir. They are known as PUNJABI MUJAHIDIN and are active in the sectarian war against anti taliban shia turi tribe of parachinar kurram agency.They have blocked the main parachinar thal road for the past one year and pakistani security forces are unable to open the road.Due to this there is famine like situation in parachinar and around half million population belong to turi tribe is starving. The hospitals are without medicine and even oxygen supply has been stoped.
    Now this network is growing day by day and most probably their leader will become the next amir of talibans. There is urgent need of strong military operation otherwise this area will provide lot of fresh recruits to the terrorists network.

  • anand says:

    When will the Pakistani Army, Pakistani ISI, Pakistani establishment, and Pakistani elected government finally take the gloves off and fully take on the Taliban, AQ linked networks (including Haqqani, Hekmatyer), and Pakistani resistance? The survival of the Pakistani state requires this.
    President Karzai just released what reads as a declaration of war against Pakistan. It is shocking to read:

  • Mark E says:

    This is bad. Will Pakistan allow NATO in at least? Do they need help? Will they accept help?

  • Peter says:

    Pakistan is letting things go with the full knowledge that eventually NATO and/or the USA will take care of the problem.
    They are letting things worsen to the point that USA will offer billions of dollars of assistance in return for the opportunity to allow thousands of our troops to die after the Taliban as dug itself in sufficiently.
    This is nothing more than extortion from the currupt new/old Pakistani government.

  • Raj Kumar says:

    You have got it totally wrong. No one and I mean no one in Pakistan is interested in fighting the Taliban.
    Pakistan is the Taliban, since it came into being on a extremist vision as a homeland for the Indian Muslim. The problem is that the founders of Pakistan didn’t have the guts to implement what they had started. Pakistan was created for the Indian Muslim hence it should be governed by & under Islamic Sharia.
    Now if you look at Pakistan through this prism then everything falls into place and it makes perfect sense for the Pakistani’s not to fight the Taliban. How do you fight someone who is saying that I am trying to do something which you should be doing in the first place??
    All external parties who have a stake in Pakistan that means all of us since we will all be impacted if the Pakistani nukes get into the ‘wrong’ hands should be getting ready to defang this monster!!! IF we don’t then someday we will pay a very heavy price.

  • stickety says:

    How long can this charade go on before NATO intervenes?
    Does ANYONE still believe that the Pakistani military is really “pursuing” terrorists? This is a total farce, and, unfortunately, the current administration doesn’t have the credibility or power to do anything about it.
    I don’t see any good options on the table, but my guess is that we will end up with a protracted NATO air campaign, bombing “Taliban” targets in Pakistan. There’s no way in hell that we can send large number of troops into Pakistan, so I’m guessing we will see the beginning of a massive air campaign next year some time. What else can we possibly do?

  • Alex says:

    If Benazhir Bhutto’s assasination wasn’t a big enough wake-up call, I’m not sure what it is going to take.
    Pakistani Army and the Frontier Corps seem to be operating as effectively as UN Peacekeepers, and that’s not a compliment.

  • crosspatch says:

    “When will the Pakistani Army, Pakistani ISI, Pakistani establishment, and Pakistani elected government finally take the gloves off and fully take on the Taliban, AQ linked networks (including Haqqani, Hekmatyer), and Pakistani resistance?”
    I don’t think they ever will as long as there is really no incentive to do so. If paramilitary forts are blown up, fine, simply stop putting forts there might be one attitude.
    There is an argument among those various institutions that the people in those areas should simply be left alone to do as they wish. The problem comes in when Pakistan is held responsible for the actions of those people. As soon as Pakistan is forced to pay serious consequences for the actions of the tribes, they will be forced to throttle them. Until that time comes, there really is no incentive for the Pakistani government to interfere.
    It appears that the game at the moment is a balancing act. Do enough so that it doesn’t appear to the outside world that they are completely ignoring the situation while trying to extract promises from the tribes to settle down. I get the feeling that Pakistan is going to expend the bare minimum of effort that it feels it needs to in order to avoid intervention by outside forces.
    But as others have noted, at some point it might be in Pakistan’s interest to simply let the outsiders take care of the issue. Then the outsiders look like the “bad cop” and the Pakistani government is the “good cop”.
    Instinctvely speaking, I would say the world is going to soon tire of the game and this would be particularly so if some other major attack originates from that region. Even so, that is some of the roughest country on the planet. It isn’t easy for an outsider to operate there, particularly with winter coming on in just a few weeks time.

  • murad says:

    I think every one who has contributed here specially the Indians are simply using this forum and the situation in Afghanistan to create a dual front for Pakistan.
    Since India never got the chance to pressure Pakistan from its Western borders, this it thinks is the best time to do it. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is contigous to Pakistan and like every nation state its has more interests in Afghanistan than India which is has been desperately trying to make the best out of the situation.
    India should know that Pakistan will thwart any Indian move which is of deteriment to Pakistan. So India should mind its own business and leave the war on terror to the key players and not try dictating Pakistan.

  • anand says:

    India is a plural free democracy with 1.2 billion people, who are far more focused on the economy, China, working to solve global problems than fighting with Pakistan. The amount of anti-Pakistan sentiment has dropped in India, especially among business people and younger Indians.
    The primary Indian interest as I understand it is to facilitate a prosperous free Pakistani democracy that contributes positively to the global community and stops violence against itself and others. A weak or divided or unsuccessful Pakistan is India’s worst nightmare. {Most Indians, and their foreign policy establishment thinks this way. They fear that weapons might fall into the hands of terrorists who take advantage of Pakistan’s chaos to launch attacks on non Pakistanis. They also don’t want instability inside Pakistan to affect India.}
    In fact, there is a close convergence between North Americans, Europeans, Russians, Chinese, Indians, Japanese, South Koreans, Australians, Thais, Philippines, Indonesians, Malaysians and Singaporeans see Pakistan.
    Pakistan has no nation state enemies. The international community almost universally wants for Pakistan what Pakistanis want for themselves.
    I concur with “Pakistani’s”

  • Alex says:

    Sometimes I think we should Osirak the Pakistani nukes and step back and let the various factions fight it out. Just a crazy daydream though…

  • Neo says:

    The assertion that India is opening a second front doesn’t fit the facts. Not at all! In fact Indian had much more to do with the Afghan second front prior to 9/11 when it provided financial and material support to the northern tribes against the Taliban. India doesn’t share any of the military burden in Afghanistan other than sharing intelligence and keeping it’s contacts with the northern tribes open. It has more of an economic presence but much of that is also with the northern tribes and fairly low profile.
    Pakistan does have a second front on it’s western boundary, if you want to call it a front. It is a US & NATO front, not Indian. India is not going to take a more prominent role in Afghanistan, certainly not a military one. It is not in the US interest to play the India card against Pakistan, not now, and not over this.
    The reason Pakistan has a US front on your western boundary is fairly straight forward. A terrorist organization that directly attacked the US is taking sanctuary within the boundaries of Pakistan. There are extra complicating factors but Al Qaeda and it’s international terrorism is the still the primary cause of this crises. I am quite sure that the US presence on Pakistan’s frontier is a great inconvenience. It exacerbates every sort of political and societal problem within Pakistan. At the same time we aren’t going to just drop our insistence on the elimination of Al Qaeda because of the inconvenience to Pakistan. The US is trying to stay out of Pakistan as much as possible without leaving the area altogether. We are giving Pakistan as much political room as possible to work this out for itself.
    I’m not saying the US is leaving Pakistan political room out of some great sense of altruism. To the contrary, the US is giving Pakistan room right now because first it cannot find a way to get at Al Qaeda and the Taliban without coming into direct conflict with Pakistan. Second, we don’t have the troops right now for any sort of expansion even if we wished.
    Personally, I’m for giving the Pakistani population quite a bit of time to decide where they are going on this. That’s why I have repeatedly called for restraint on cross boarder attacks for much of the last two years. As I have said a number of times, if the US pushes, much of the Pakistani population will probably side with the Taliban. Even though the Pakistani population is hardly of a mind to support the Taliban’s methods, this sort of reaction is entirely predictable. It will be the Taliban though that will be pushing the Pakistani population, not the US. How that plays out and who comes out on top is much more uncertain. I’m generally cynical about possible outcomes but the Taliban does have a habit of overplaying it’s had too. That was a major factor in Al Qaeda’s loss in Iraq, in the end it may be the difference in Pakistan as well.
    As for India’s interest in this, it is large, but indirect. The Islamists don’t have the resources to support offensives in both Afghanistan and Kashmir at the same time, so India benefits indirectly. The political situation also has direct bearing on India’s future so they are very interested. For now they need to stay out of it though, their presence is just another complication. Of course Al Qaeda will try to bring India into this. I’m afraid they will try hard to force India to react.

  • crosspatch says:

    “I think every one who has contributed here specially the Indians are simply using this forum and the situation in Afghanistan to create a dual front for Pakistan.”
    Honestly, I would have much more important priorities for my country’s money and the lives of our young men than to open some kind of “front” with Pakistan. My country had many people killed by an organization that is now hiding in Pakistan. That organization continues to kill people today both inside and outside Pakistan. What we are interested in is bringing murderers to justice. We are prepared to make great sacrifice to see that these animals do not get away with their crimes. It would be in the interest of any civilized human being to join with us in that effort.
    The notion that our goal is to simply bring some kind of harm or hardship to Pakistan is simply insane.

  • sinz52 says:

    A first strike on Pakistan to take out their nuclear weapons is the riskiest move the U.S. (or anyone else) could ever make. There is absolutely no margin for error, and nothing less than perfection will do. If even one nuke survives the attack, that nuke will be exploded somewhere in retaliation. Most likely in Mumbai.

    In the Gulf War of 1991, the U.S. had dedicated flights of F-15s to go after Iraqi Scud missile launchers. They bombed and bombed–and mostly blew up a bunch of decoy launchers. U.N. inspectors who visited Iraq after the end of the Gulf War found that at least two dozen actual Scud launchers survived the Gulf War and everything the coalition had thrown at them.

    That’s not good enough for a decapitating first strike on a nuclear power.

  • Neo says:

    Correction to post
    “Taliban does have a habit of overplaying it’s had too”
    had = hand
    The Taliban has a habit of overplaying it’s hand

  • Neo says:

    “If Benazhir Bhutto’s assasination wasn’t a big enough wake-up call, I’m not sure what it is going to take.”

  • DJ Elliott says:

    A reminder:
    “The comments section is intended to provide a forum to discuss and debate current posts. The Long War Journal makes no warranty to the accuracy of readers’ comments, nor do we condone or affirm the opinions of reader-based comments. Discuss the issue at hand and do not go off topic. The comments section is not a place for a political discussion.”

  • The attack on fortified ISAF cannot be carried out by ragtag fighters. The provocation is done with an intention as was the Indian embassy attack and other attacks like the one on 6th july,hangu,kurram etc
    It is essentially an attack calibrated by a faction in the Pakistani army with help from ISI ( a type of kargil) so that discredited civilian leadership of Zardari and Nawaz can be wiped out along with Musharaff to cater to public opinion.The seminarists who are in pay of SAUDI ARABIA are already on the job of discreditting the lected leaders by talking about NRO and how Nawaz was the original killer of judiciary.They may even restore judiciary to win public support.
    Zardari and nawaz may be in know of things about this COUP by A section of Pakistani army and so they are in Dubai. Americans will not mind this as long as this new leadership start their killing in Kashmir and keep the afghanistan fron quiet.

  • Michael says:

    I’m curious what the CFR thinks now of these events after debates of replacing Musharref.
    Essentially, you have the same corrupt individuals of the past with no power leading a country with a stronger military and intelligence service that does what it wants.
    It is these power struggles which keep Pakistan from exercising any clear mission on the ground. Pakistan needs some form of Turkish moment whereby a military leader steps up and is able to garner full support to rid the system of radicals infecting the entire military and services area.
    Otherwise, what are options for Afghanistan? Increased defensive military and border efforts? How long can we depend upon NATO and Europe to stand by us on these efforts? These are questions that must be asked and answered. Europe is already weak in its support in terms of raw numbers and political will to engage the enemy by several countries.
    The tribal region will fight forever as long as our nations allow them free and open range to live in. Without a solid defeat once and for all forcing them to reject Al Qaeda and forcing the Taliban to stop attacking Afghanistan. As long as the tribal areas remain independent this terrorist problem will proliferate around the globe.
    Eventually a clear and overwhelming message has to be sent, or we will bear this burden possibly for decades with losses of life.
    Does anyone here believe the West or America has such patience for this type of “long war?” I don’t think so, but then I’m only guessing based upon current societies opinions in the West.
    This eventually means escalation does it not? And it also means a strong man to take over the Pakistani military and ISI. Will we see another coup?
    Right now the Wild, Wild West exist between Afghanistan and Pakistan with no action plan, no committment, and no oversight to these territories. They want to remain Independent, yet some kind of proxy to Pakistan? This is in many ways no different than Hezbollah in Lebanon. They gain the security of Pakistani military coverage against legitimate agression by Western govnernments, yet maintain the terrorist training camps and bases of which to create and inflict terror around the world.
    Eventually, the West must tell Pakistan – take control or We will consider these areas non-Pakistani.
    Potentially, these regions are training thousands of terrorist to continue to infiltrate the West with more attacks on civilian populace. How many more attacks must happen? We’ve been fortunate to block many of them, but this will not last.
    I have no military experience, but this situation seems unbearable for the military. We are left in a defensive position along the border of a Terrorist Zone and told by Pakistan to stay out. While they allow the terrorist to stream across and attack Afghanistan civilians, troops and the Western troops.
    At what point does the West tell Pakistan to take full responsibility? If they’re to weak to control these areas, then they need to admit it, back all their troops out and allow us in to finish the job.
    I see no solutions other than 1) stopping our financial support of Pakistan and forcing them to make a decision, 2) bombing the hell out of these areas until they hand over the terrorist leaders and tribal leaders agree to stop supporting the terrorist ever again.
    These tribes only understand one message and that is strength, death and destruction.
    They have been allowed to keep criminals, thugs and terrorist in their areas without suffering any real disadvantages or big sticks. They thumb their noses at the West and reap the bounty of heroin payments, plus the payments from Islamic radicals that fund the madrassas and terrorist training camps.
    It is time they start paying for their support of terrorism and its time that Pakistan pay too.

  • Michael says:

    “Personally, I don’t mind if Pukhtun areas or at the very least tribal areas become independent or go to Afghanistan.”
    And this is the real problem. We have a region of the world that is essentially just outlaw territory with no real jurisdiction. So Pakistan does not answer for it, except to say – don’t attack it. Again, this is much like Lebanon complaining when Hezbollah kidnaps and attacks Israel from Lebanon.
    Either the territory needs to be hashed out between Afghanistan/Pakistan meeting once and for all, or it becomes Independent and finally must answer alone for its support of these terrorist financiers from around the world, especially from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, Sudan, Yemen, etc., etc.
    Right now, they exist much like Hezbollah, protected by a Nation-state, yet festering and fomenting war and terror against a neighboring state.
    I’m very curious what military experience thinks. From a military perspective we can hold such a front infinitely as long as our nation supplies the funds. But politically? Only if the front calms down.

  • Ram Singh says:

    Matter of time, before Pak nukes are fired on USA and Israel. The time for USA to act is now, before it is too late. It is not Chinese or Russian Nukes that threatened USA and Israel. It is the Pak Nukes, because allowing Paks to keep nukes is like allowing a Monkey to keep a primed grenade. If USA does not act today, it will definitely become extinct as a nation one day, in the near future.


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