Taliban, Pakistani Army clash in Swat

Map of Swat. Click map to view.

The Pakistani Army claimed 48 Taliban fighters, including 10 senior Swat leaders, were killed in a major battle in the settled district of the Northwest Frontier Province. Five Pakistani soldiers were also reported killed. The Taliban denied the government’s claims of heavy casualties, but confirmed one leader was killed in the fighting.

“We have inflicted heavy losses on the militants,” a military spokesman told GEO TV. “We have video footage showing bodies of the militants killed in the fighting.” The Pakistani military has inflated enemy casualties in the past while downplaying their losses.

Muslim Khan, a Taliban spokesman for Swat leader Mullah Fazlullah, denied the Taliban took heavy casualties. He did confirm that Maulvi Hussain Ali, a Taliban commander who is also known as Toor Mullah, was killed in the fighting.

The battle began after a force of 70 Taliban fighters surrounded and attacked a security outpost in the Matta subdistrict in Swat. The Pakistani military originally claimed 25 Taliban fighters were killed in the counterattack.

The Taliban have conducted a series of attack in the region at the same time at the attack on the security outpost. A military armored vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device, while three bridges were destroyed in Swat. A girls’ school was also bombed.

Just yesterday, the Taliban overran a police checkpoint and kidnapped 25 Pakistani policemen and members of the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary.

The security situation in Swat has rapidly deteriorated after the government signed a peace agreement with the Taliban in May of this year. Fazlullah’s followers continue to attack government agencies and security forces in Swat despite signing the agreement, in which 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.

Instead the Taliban have pressed a series of attacks against the military and government officials. The Taliban have continued to attack schools, barbershops, markets, and music and video shops in an effort to enforce sharia, or Islamic law.

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.

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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  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/30/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  • ST333 says:

    I’m guessing the headline in the next 48 hours will be: More Peace Negotiations taking place in Swat. God Speed to the Army casualties.

  • Private Finch says:

    This is showing the usual Taliban m. o.; agree to a new peace ceasefire, build-up forces then attack the Paki army. When the Paki army gets its act together and attacks; seek a new peace ceasefire with a few bribes. It seems the Pakistan army and government never catches on.

  • Buff52 says:

    I believe there is a passage in the Koran that allows the Taliban to make a fake peace called an “Hoodna.” The “Hoodna” allows them breathing room to recover their strength until they are strong enough to conquer their enemies.

  • Marlin says:

    More bits of information are now available about the fighting, including that Tor Mullah was a close associate of Mullah Fazlullah.

    Military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said an important Taliban commander, Tor Mullah, a close associate of Fazlullah, was slain in the fighting. Sources close to Taliban confirmed the commander’s death.
    Meanwhile, Taliban leader Ali Bakht said that four Taliban commanders were among several militants killed in shelling by gunship helicopters in the Piochar area of Matta tehsil. The killings are in addition to those claimed by army troops, the sources said.

    Daily Times: Five soldiers, 25 militants killed in Swat clash

  • Marlin says:

    Reports up until now had not been clear, but this one clearly states that at least a portion of the Pakistani military in Swat is the Army.

    Meanwhile, the security forces by clamping curfew in Swat for an indefinite period have sealed all the road communications. The Army itself has taken over the control of Matta police station

    Geo TV: 38 Taliban die in clashes with security forces at Swat

  • Marlin says:

    You’d think after a while the remaining escapees would have figured out the returning to jihad wasn’t such a good idea. It would be interesting to know if he was killed in Afghanistan or Pakistan and how long ago.

    An al Qaeda field commander who escaped from a U.S. prison in Afghanistan in 2005 was killed in a recent U.S. bombing, an al Qaeda leader said in a statement posted on the Internet on Thursday.
    “Al Qaeda announces the martyrdom of one of the heroes and field leaders who performed well in facing the modern crusade, our brother Abu Abdallah al-Shami,” Mustafa Abu al-Yazid said in the statement dated July 14 on an Islamist website.
    Abu al-Yazid did not say when the U.S. bombing took place or name the region in which Shami, an alias, was killed.

    Reuters: Al Qaeda says Bagram escapee killed in U.S. bombing


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