Mullah Fazlullah. Click image to view the slideshow of the Taliban Leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Taliban have struck again in Pakistan’s lawless Northwest Frontier Province. A large Taliban force kidnapped 25 Pakistani policemen and members of the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary after overrunning a checkpoint in the settled district of Swat. The attacks are occurring despite a peace agreement signed between the government and the Taliban in May.
The security personnel were captured after two senior associates of Swat Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah were detained during an operation in Swat. The Taliban frequently kidnap government officials and security personnel to obtain the release of captive commanders and fighters.
The kidnapping of the Pakistani security officials occurred as five intelligence and security agents were killed and 14 were wounded in separate incidents in Swat over the past 24 hours. Today, two soldiers were killed and 14 were wounded as they attempted to dismantle an illegal Taliban checkpoint. Yesterday, three intelligence officials were killed after being ambushed.
The attacks on the Pakistan security forces are the latest incidents in a string of Taliban violence in Swat over the past week. A boy was killed after the Taliban bombed a general store on July 27. The Taliban bombed two barbershops on July 26. The Taliban bombed a girls’ school and a shopping center on July 25 and torched a school on July 20. The Taliban attack schools, barbershops, markets, and music and video shops in an effort to enforce sharia, or Islamic law.
Fazlullah’s followers continue to attack government agencies and security forces in Swat despite signing a so-called “peace agreement” with the government in May of this year. In the agreement, the Taliban agreed to recognize the writ of the government; halt attacks on security forces, barbershops, and schools; release captives; denounce suicide bombings; stop carrying weapons in public; and end the Taliban’s established parallel administration.
The Taliban and Fazlullah have never lived up to the obligations of the peace accord. Two days ago, Fazlullah threatened to unleash a wave of suicide bombers if the government launched a military operation in Swat. On July 19, he led a meeting of 50 Taliban commanders in Swat to discuss strategy on attacking government installations and security forces.
Background on recent peace agreements between the government and the Taliban
The security situation in northwestern Pakistan and in neighboring Afghanistan has rapidly deteriorated since the government initiated its latest round of peace accords with the Taliban and allied extremists in the tribal areas and settled districts in the Northwest Frontier Province. Peace agreements have been signed with the Taliban in North Waziristan, Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Malakand, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, and Hangu.
The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established more than 100 terror camps in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.
On July 23, Prime Minister Syed Yusaf Raza Gilani and his cabinet were told that more than 8,000 foreign fighters were operating in the tribal areas.