Suicide attack in South Waziristan threatens government’s truce with Taliban

A suicide bomber struck at Pakistani paramilitary troops in the Taliban-controlled South Waziristan tribal agency on Sunday. The attack threatens a recent truce signed between a local Taliban commander and the military.

Eight paramilitary soldiers from the Frontier Corps were killed after a suicide bomber rammed a truck packed with explosives into a checkpoint outside the Zalai Kla Fort near Wana. The suicide bomber was attempting to enter the fort, a Pakistani Army spokesman said.

The suicide attack took place just two days after a US Predator strike came close to killing Mullah Nazir, a senior Taliban leader in South Waziristan. Nazir and Tahir Yuldashev, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, were the targets of the strike. Nazir was lightly wounded in the attack. It is not known if Yuldashev was among those killed.

Six “foreigners” — a term used to describe Arabs or other non-Pakistani al Qaeda members — and a Taliban operative are reported to have been killed in the latest Predator strike.

The suicide attack broke the most recent peace agreement between the government and the Taliban in South Waziristan. On Oct. 18, the government cut a deal with Nazir, who controls Taliban forces in the western regions in South Waziristan, and Hafiz Gul Bahadar in North Waziristan. Both Taliban leaders shelter al Qaeda fighters, have training camps in their tribal areas, and send forces into Afghanistan to fight Coalition forces.

The military has shied away from taking on the powerful Taliban forces in North and South Waziristan. A military offensive in South Waziristan that began at the end of January was halted after 10 days of heavy fighting. The military abandoned several forts in South Waziristan after several were overrun in Taliban attacks and the supply lines could not be kept open.

Today’s suicide attack is the fourth such strike in the last week against Pakistani security forces operating in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. The Taliban have targeted the poorly armed and trained police and Frontier Corps forces.

Four police and five civilians were killed in a suicide attack at a police station in Mardan on Oct. 31. Two security personnel were killed and six were wounded in a suicide attack on a checkpoint in Bannu on Oct. 29. Eleven security personnel were killed in a suicide strike on a checkpoint in Mohmand on Oct. 26.

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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