The Swat Taliban claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a new appointed senior official for the district as he was traveling in the region.
Taliban fighters captured Swat’s new District Coordination Officer, Khushhal Khan, and six of his bodyguards as they were traveling from the town of Saidu Sharif to Mingora, Geo News reported. The six bodyguards are members of the Swat Levies, a paramilitary force within the Frontier Corps.
Muslim Khan, the senior Taliban spokesman and aide to Swat leader Mullah Fazlullah, took credit for the kidnapping of the official to “discuss some issues with him.”
“He is our guest,” Khan told the media. “We have to discuss some issues with him. We will serve him with tea and then free him.”
The kidnapping of the official highlights the degree of Taliban control in the district and how public officials will be coerced. Political officials, judges and policemen have watched as the government abdicated to the Taliban after the military was defeated three time in Swat over the past year. The abduction of Khan is a clear sign of who controls the region, and officials will be cognizant of the Taliban’s reach when making decisions.
The government agreed to impose sharia, or Islamic law, and end military operations in the Malakand division, the administrative region that is made up of Malakand, Swat, Shangla, Buner, Dir, and Chitral. The agreement was reached with Sufi Mohammed, the father in law of Fazlullah and a radical Islamist who sent more than 10,000 Taliban fighters to attack US forces in Afghanistan. Sufi claimed that he would control the sharia courts.
The Taliban agreed to a 10-day ceasefire, which expires on Feb. 25. There have been conflicting reports about the extension of the ceasefire. Some reports claimed Fazlullah agreed to extend the ceasefire “indefinitely” while other reports said Fazlullah will make a decision on Feb. 25.
On Feb. 20, Fazlullah issued a list of demands to be met in exchange for a permanent ceasefire. He insisted the Pakistani Army withdraw from Swat and the Frontier Corps remain in barracks, and that the government release all Taliban prisoners, withdraw all criminal cases and grant amnesty, and pay reparations to the Taliban.
For more information on the Malakand Accord, see:
Feb. 20, 2009
Feb. 18, 2009
Feb. 18, 2009
Feb. 15, 2009