Taliban kill 12 soldiers in North Waziristan ambush

The Taliban killed 12 Pakistan soldiers during a deadly ambush in North Waziristan. The soldiers were killed when a company-sized force of about 150 Taliban fighters carried out the ambush against their military convoy as it passed through the town of Wacha Bibi near Miramshah.

The Taliban fighters hit the convoy with IEDs, then opened fire with a coordinated assault of rocket-propelled grenades. The military said that 12 soldiers were killed in the initial attack, but a Taliban spokesman claimed more than 60 soldiers were killed.

The military said 10 Taliban fighters were killed after its forces engaged the attackers in an extended gunfight.

The ambush took place in tribal areas run by Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the powerful warlord who is the Taliban commander in North Waziristan. Bahadar has demanded the military end the operation in the Jani Khel and Baka Khel tribal areas in the neighboring district of Bannu, and has threatened to attack government forces.

The Pakistani government has decided not to target Bahadar and senior Taliban commanders Siraj Haqqani and Mullah Nazir. Earlier today, the government issued bounties for Baitullah and his 10 most senior deputies. Noticeably absent from the wanted list were Bahadar, Sirah, and Nazir.

The military is also conducting operations in South Waziristan. Earlier today, the military killed 11 Taliban fighters in airstrikes in the towns of Kaniguram, Shah Alam, and Raghhzai.

The airstrikes took place after Taliban forces under the command of Baitullah Mehsud attacked two military forts near Wana. Two soldiers were killed and four more were wounded in the attacks.

Yesterday the military claimed 16 Taliban fighters and four al Qaeda operatives were killed in airstrikes in South Waziristan, and another 13 Taliban fighters were killed in the Arakzai tribal agency.

The military also leveled the Bazaar in Jandola in the district of Tank. More than 700 shops run by the Bhittani tribe were destroyed in the punitive operation. Turkistani Bhittani, a senior member of the tribe and a Taliban commander, has sided with the government against Baitullah.

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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11 Comments

  • KaneKaizer says:

    So the death toll for the Pakistani Army is somewhere between 12 and 60.

  • tbrucia says:

    Let me get this… a convoy was hit passing through a town?!? There were no columns on either side clearing the flanks? There were no helicopter or other air assets scanning from ‘the high ground’? The vehicles were so closely spaced that 12-60 in the convoy were killed? No lead patrol probed for IEDs? About 150 Taliban fighters assembled to stage an ambush and remained undetected until the firefight? AND no intelligence reports warned of hostile forces massing? Even if only half of these surmises is correct, the idiot who ordered this should be removed from command…. Am I being too critical?

  • MZBH says:

    “So the death toll for the Pakistani Army is somewhere between 12 and 60.”
    The death toll is not between ’12 and 60′, unless you actually believe Taliban claims on casualties inflicted in Afghanistan as well. They tend to be pretty wildly exaggerated.
    Air assets such as choppers and UAV’s are limited, and at the moment deployed in Swat and SW.
    The army does typically have columns clearing the flanks, going by footage from Pakistani television. IED detection is not foolproof, as NATO can testify in Afghanistan as well.
    I doubt the Taliban massed into a company sized group and traveled to the town. They likely moved in smaller groups and took up positions around the ambush site – given that most Tribals carry weapons, its pretty hard telling friend from foe, especially when the locals are supportive of the militants out of sympathy or fear.
    The Army may also have been expecting Gul Bahadur to stay out of the fight, which increasingly to me looks like it may not happen. Taking out Gul Bahadur would be preferable anyway, though I would have preferred they did so piecemeal – taking out B Mehsud before focusing on Nazir and Bahadur.

  • Malang Jan says:

    The ambush was carried out in a narrow gorge at Madokhel that isn’t much different than the Shaoor Tangi, the famous gorge in South Waziristan where freedom-fighters often ambushed British forces and other invaders in the past. According to Rahim Ullah Usafzai of “The News” the casualties on Paki Army side were (according to Government Sources in Peshawar) were 40 to 60 and many more succumbing to serious injuries. A huge number has been arrested as well. This has demoralized Paki Army and The Long War Journal shall closely monitor the desertion rate.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    Actually, if the more recent reports are correct, the death toll in that ambush is “between 12 and 60”. It may be as high as 27 now.

  • MZBH says:

    “Actually, if the more recent reports are correct, the death toll in that ambush is “between 12 and 60″. It may be as high as 27 now.”
    Ten more soldiers died overnight raising the toll to 27+, more are in critical condition, so it may continue rising.
    That does not validate the original Taliban claims of KIA immediately after the ambush.

  • T Ruth says:

    MZBH “That does not validate the original Taliban claims of KIA immediately after the ambush.”
    Nobody here as i read it was validating Taliban claims. It was you who erroneously deduced that “The death toll is not between ’12 and 60′, unless you actually believe Taliban claims on casualties inflicted in Afghanistan as well” presumably in your haste to rush to the Pak Army’s defence.
    So with respect, our commenters above were right in that “Actually, if the more recent reports are correct, the death toll in that ambush is “between 12 and 60″. It may be as high as 27 now.”
    That established, you might now be able to see beyond into the context, essentially to do with the army’s vulnerability.
    As fo r”Air assets such as choppers and UAV’s are limited, and at the moment deployed in Swat and SW.” Thats a pretty poor show for the world’s 7th largest military. Worse still when the Army has had a free reign over running the whole country for most of the GWOT period. Or were they too busy playing the dizzy heights of the real estate boom? Maybe there is something in what the gentleman said about monitoring the desertion rate.
    Tactically too as he said it probably had more to with the location than whether or not “They likely moved in smaller groups”. So, there and then, they were a company sized group, just as the report said. I don’t confuse reality with realty.

  • MZBH says:

    “It was you who erroneously deduced that “The death toll is not between ’12 and 60′, unless you actually believe Taliban claims on casualties inflicted in Afghanistan as well” presumably in your haste to rush to the Pak Army’s defence.”
    What does ‘death toll between 12 and 60’ mean to you? To me it clearly indicates an attempt to inflate casualties. The ten other soldiers did not die, raising the KIA to 27, till later on. So how could the death toll be ‘between 12 and 60’ immediately after the ambush?
    You unfortunately are confusing reality, ‘presumably in your haste’ to bash the PA.
    “Thats a pretty poor show for the world’s 7th largest military.”
    Unfortunately sanctions and mismanagement of the economy tend to do that.
    “Worse still when the Army has had a free reign over running the whole country for most of the GWOT period.”
    And they just had money lying around to purchase choppers left and right eh.. General after general has complained the US has been stingy with releasing more Cobra’s and even NVG’s for years now.
    The defence budget meanwhile decreased as a proportion of GDP to about 2.7 percent by the end of Musharraf’s tenure.
    “So, there and then, they were a company sized group, just as the report said.”
    They were a company sized group at the time of the ambush – that does not automatically imply they got together, had a tailgating party and flew banners and fired in the air in a convoy en route to the ambush site.
    Amalgamating from smaller groups into a large attacking force numbering several hundreds has been a tactic used in the past as well.

  • Joe says:

    …..Guys, guys guys…..
    why waste your effort arguing about the exact number of dead/wounded?
    Obviously both (there are really only two) sources of the figures have an agenda: the PA wants to downplay losses, the Taliban wants them inflated.


    This is why you end up with silly sounding numbers like “between 12 and 60” – that’s half an order of magnitude!!!

    The whole GWOT is highly Information-managed (from every side), Pakistan most obviously so.

    Has anyone done some statistical analysis of the relative accuracy of the sources? (I would suggest Bayesian analysis, its easy but you would want it done by others with different world-views to compare the effect of prior expectation/bias, and anyway independent verification is rather thin on the ground)
    I’d love to see that if anyone has links….

    One other thing:

    Mr Roggio, I am having some difficulty with the last paragraph.

    If 700 stalls in a tribal marketplace were destroyed by the military, why would they do this to a tribe that has decided to back the PA? Punitive for what? Are they one of the sub-clans within that tribe (there are several) that disagree with PA cooperation? 700 shops is a lot of lost livelihood, I would expect the repercussions in terms of IDPs and extremist recruitment to be outweighing any local and temporary display of federal power.

    Now, I’m not really expecting ISPR to give us a press release telling us about this, but I couldn’t find any further online reference to this event (including sources that have reported similar situations in the past) and would like to know where this info came from.

    Maybe it was a typo? Taliban destroying the shops of a tribe cooperating with their enemies, that I would understand…

    Please Mr Roggio would you expand upon this it just doesn’t make sense to me as written.

    Thank you in advance.

  • joe says:

    Regarding previous post:
    Unreserved apology on my behalf to Bill Roggio.

    Story was reported by Dawn.com:
    //www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/provinces/12-hundred+of+shops+razed+to+the+ground+in+tank–bi-05
    and is indeed more interesting than the short para in the background of this article would at first seem.

    … but I have the source, and it was courtesy of this site.
    strangely Dawn’s article database is not as responsive to searches as I imagined, probably some meta-tags I or they missed..

    Feel free to not publish either this post or the last.

  • waqarkhan says:

    SAME OLD HISTORY REPEATED TWO AMBUSHES AT DIFFERENT TIME AND SPACE. MOST FUNNY THING IS THAT BOTH THE COMMANDERS WERE PROMOTED AS GENERALS……….I SALUTE THOSE WHO KNOWING FULLY WELL THAT AMBUSH IS LAID AND ALL THE SOPS BEING VIOLATED OBEYED THE ORDERS AND MOVED TO THE VALLEY OF DEATH.IT IS REALLY UNFORTUNATE THAT IN PA SOMEHOW LAWFUL AND UNLAWFUL COMMANDS ARE SPECIFIED TO SOME EXTENT BUT THE SYSTEM DOES NOT SUPPORT THE DISOBEDIENCE OF UNLAWFUL COMMAND

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