Taliban suicide bomber kills 17 in Pakistan’s Swat district

Map of the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. Hangu is the latest district to fall under Taliban control. The government signed peace agreements in the red agencies/ districts; purple districts are under de facto Taliban control; yellow regions are under Taliban influence.

A Taliban suicide bomber struck in northwestern Pakistan for the third day straight. Seventeen Pakistanis were killed and more than 20 wounded after two bombings in the settled district of Swat.

Sixteen Pakistanis were killed and 20 were wounded after a suicide bomber detonated at a police checkpoint. A second bombing killed one policeman. Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan credited the Taliban with the attack. He warned suicide strikes would continue until the military end operations in Swat and Bajaur.

The military has been fighting the Taliban in Swat, led by Mullah Fazlullah, in Swat since November 2007. The government signed a peace agreement with Fazlullah in May agreeing to release prisoners and implement sharia, or Islamic law.

The cease-fire was short lived, and the Taliban restarted attacks after claiming prisoners were being released too slowly and promises to implement sharia were not being carried out.

Hundreds of Pakistani soldiers and policemen have been killed in Swat since January 2007. The Taliban have destroyed 125 schools in Swat in the past 10 months and have bombed the hotel and chair lifts at Swat’s ski resort.

Elsewhere in Pakistan’s northwest, fighting was reported in Hangu, Peshawar, and Bajaur. In Peshawar, one policeman and one civilian were killed in Taliban rocket and small-arms attacks.

Security forces killed 16 Taliban fighters, including two Chechens, after ambushing a Taliban convoy. Two vehicles were packed with explosives and two suicide bombers were believed to be among the fighters.

Eighteen Taliban fighters were reported killed during a series of clashes in Bajaur, where the military initiated an offensive more than a week ago. Hundreds of Taliban fighters and scores of soldiers have been killed and scores more captured.

The suicide campaign is underway

The Taliban’s suicide campaign is in full swing. The Swat attack is the third major suicide bombing in four days, and the fifth since Aug. 12.

A pair of bombers detonated outside the main gates of the Pakistani Ordnance Facility in Wah in Punjab province on Aug. 21. The day prior, a suicide bomber detonated in a hospital in Dera Ismail Khan. Thirty Pakistani civilians were killed and 25 were wounded.

The Taliban have repeatedly threatened to reinitiate suicide and bombing attacks throughout Pakistan if the government did not cease military operations in Swat and Bajaur. Baitullah Mehsud, the commander of the Pakistani Taliban, had previously threatened wage “jihad” and turn the provinces of Sindh and Punjab “into a furnace” if the operations did not cease.

The Taliban cowed the Pakistani government into signing peace agreements after a vicious suicide and military campaign in 2007 and early 2008 that claimed thousands of Pakistani lives.

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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  • Alex says:

    This area is looking more and more like 1990s Somalia each day.

  • Afridi says:

    The best way to deal with the Talibans is negotiation.
    We have used power in Afghanistan but still we cannot control the situation therefore i suggest that we shall negotiate with them.

  • Alex says:

    Pakistan has “banned” the Taliban.
    The fact that there were no moves to freeze their accounts sooner is worrisome, but anyways, can we (or Pakistani Air Force, who we sell F-16s to) please start the air strikes now?

  • Neo says:

    Sharif just quit the ruling coalition this morning. He will have the lawyers on his side because of the Supreme Court controversy.
    Sharif is a bit bold though and not very subtle about his power plays. I don’t think he can contemplate openly supporting the Taliban right now with violence and terrorism at this level. I have no idea which way the Pakistani populous will lean in the unfolding power struggle.

  • Abheek says:

    Neo: A common Pakistani sees US as its enemy No 1.
    If the Americans are under the impression that Paki hatered towards them is only because of general anti-US feeling amongst Muslims the world over, then you are in for a surprise.
    The underlying thinking out there is US-Iran war is semifinal and US-Pakistan war is going to be the Final.
    And they are so rabid in their beliefs that they wont change their mind even with evidence on the contrary. They have same kind of hatered towards Hindus and the Jews.
    Add to this the fact that US was supporting an unpopular dictator (all dictators become unpopular towards the end of their reign).
    Also the economy of Pstan is in shambles. And when it starts hitting the common man economically the misery increases manyfold.
    And they see an American hand behind this situation.
    Also a common Pakistan has soft corner for the Jihadi elements. Afterall these were the very people who had helped in defeating the Soviet forces. Their mantra seems to be it is ok if the Jihadis carry out terrorism against US/West/India/Jews … but not against a fellow Islamist. So there is no real ground support for the actions that were / are being carried out by Pakistani armed forces against Talibs. In their opinion Paki Armed forces are for fighting the real enemy (read US/West/India/Jews)
    Add to this that Sharif is a known Jamat sympathiser and has had links with the Jihadis in the past ( This statement is true for many others in Paki establishment – the politicians, Military professionals, religious leaders, etc.). An emboldened Talib / AQ might be inclined to think that their sympatiser is in office. So I wont be surprised if we see more attack on NATO from Jihadis (with a covert Pakistani support). Under such situation – A proxy war being fought by Pakistan against US/NATO what do you think America’s response will be?

  • Oscar says:

    Pakistan currently is most actively pursuing the Taliban and is also paying the heaviest price.
    Pakistan cannot adopt the carpet bombing strategies others undertake simply because the collateral damage is its own citizens and the blowback from such a strategy is going to be catatrophic in the medium term. It is also not in Pakistan’s strategic interest to have two hostile armies on both its East and West borders – so they cannot alienate the Pashtun population. Hence Pakistan has no choice to undertake a strategy of brinkmanship so that they destroy the leadership and neutralize their organization. They somehow need to alienate the Taliban from the Pashtun tribes. Any unilateral strikes by Nato which cause collateral damage to the non-Taliban Pashtun’s will set this strategy back and shift the sympathies back to the Taliban.


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