The Taliban have begun to attack security forces in earnest in the lawless district of Swat less than one day after declaring that the peace agreement with the government “practically stands dissolved.”
A Taliban force ambushed a military convoy in Swat and killed one soldier after a firefight. The Taliban took credit for the ambush, claiming it was in retaliation for military operations in the region.
“Why do you think we should remain silent if they come heavy on us?” Muslim Khan, the spokesman for radical Swat Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah, told The Associated Press. “We will attack them too.”
A Taliban force has also laid siege to the electrical grid station in Mingora. Two security personnel were wounded and 46 more are said to be surrounded as the Taliban surround the utility, Geo News reported. An explosion was also reported near the main police station in Mingora.
The spate of attacks take place just one day after the Taliban admitted to beheading two government officials. The Taliban said the brutal murders were in response to the death of two low-level Taliban leaders.
Yesterday, Khan said the peace agreement with the government “practically stands dissolved” as the military is attacking Taliban forces throughout the Malakand Division. “Forces are attacking us and our fighters are also retaliating” against Pakistani security forces and government officials, Khan told The News. Khan also threatened to conduct attacks nationwide to avenge the military’s operations in Swat and in the neighboring districts in Dir and Buner.
The government signed the Malakand Accord with Taliban front man Sufi Mohammed, Fazlullah’s father-in-law, on February 16 after two years of fighting that put the Taliban in control of the district. The peace agreement called for the end of military operations in Swat, the end of Taliban operations, and the imposition of sharia, or Islamic law, in the districts of Malakand, Swat, Shangla, Buner, Dir, Chitral, and Kohistan, a region that encompasses nearly one-third of the Northwest Frontier Province.
But the Taliban violated the agreement immediately after signing it, and proceeded to attack security forces and conduct armed patrols. The military remained silent while the government approved the Taliban’s demand for sharia throughout Malakand.
The government ordered a military offensive in Dir and Buner after enormous pressure from the US and other Western governments to stem the Taliban tide pushing toward central Pakistan. The Taliban advanced from Swat into Buner in early April and took the district over in eight days. The move into Buner has put the Taliban within 60 miles of Islamabad and close to several nuclear facilities and the vital Tarbela Dam. The Taliban also moved into Mansehra and established bases and a training camp in the region.
Pakistani government and military officials have dismissed the Taliban threat to Islamabad and the country’s nuclear facilities, but at the end of April, the local Islamabad government ordered troops to deploy in the Margala hills just north of the city to block a Taliban advance, while the Haripur government beefed up security at the Tarbela Dam.
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