A security guard stands near the bodies of three Taliban fighters, who were shot dead while attempting to assassinate the mayor of the Bazid Khel area of Peshawar on Nov. 15, 2009. Reuters photo.
The Taliban continue their campaign to remove tribal opposition leaders in the Northwest. A leader who agreed to fight the Taliban in Bajaur was killed, while another anti-Taliban leader escaped an assassination attempt in Peshawar.
In Bajaur, the Taliban killed Malik Shir Zaman, a tribal leader who signed an agreement with the government. Zaman had agreed to raise a lashkar, or tribal militia, to oppose the Taliban. The Taliban stormed Zaman’s home and destroyed part of it. Zaman was killed in a gunfight.
Zaman was from the Mamond tribal area, a region that serves as a stronghold for the Taliban and Faqir Mohammed, the chief of the Bajaur Taliban. Although the military has conducted several operations there, it has failed to eject the Taliban.
Al Qaeda is also known to shelter in Momand. In January 2006, the US targeted a meeting of senior al Qaeda leaders in the town of Damadola in Momand. Ayman al Zawahiri, Abu Khabab al Masri, and several other senior al Qaeda leaders were thought to be meeting there.
The Taliban have successfully targeted tribal opposition in Mamond in the recent past. On Oct. 3, the Taliban assassinated Malik Abdul Majeed as he traveled to to meet with government officials to discuss efforts to beat back the Taliban in the Mamond areas.
Guards repel assassination attempt of tribal leader in Peshawar
In Peshawar, Taliban fighters disguised as women in burkas attacked the home of Mohammad Fahim Khan, the mayor of Bazid Khel in Peshawar. Khan opposes the Taliban and raised a tribal militia to keep the Islmaist fighters out of his town.
Khan’s bodyguards detected the attack and repelled it. Three Taliban fighters were killed in the battle; the rest eventually retreated.
This is not the first attempt at Khan’s life; he has been targeted in several previous assassination attempts.
“Militants have exploded three bombs near my house, killing innocent people, and they have opened fire on me several times but have failed so far,” Khan told Dawn. “These attacks will not weaken my resolve against militants.”
Last week, the Taliban managed to kill another mayor near Peshawar who opposed the group. On Nov. 8, a suicide bomber killed Abdul Malik and 11 others in an attack at a market in Matni.
The Taliban have responded viciously to efforts by tribal leaders to oppose the spread of extremism in the tribal areas. Tribal opposition has been violently attacked and defeated in Bannu, Peshawar, Arakzai, Khyber, North and South Waziristan, and previously in Swat and Dir. Suicide bombers have struck at tribal meetings held at mosques, schools, hotels, and homes.
The Taliban often have a numerical advantage over the tribes, and Taliban fighters are better trained after battling government forces in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. In addition, the tribes have often been hesitant to work with the Pakistani government and military.
Lashkars are having some limited success in Dir and Swat, however, after the military took on the Taliban in these two districts beginning in late April. Thousands of lashkar fighters have been raised in Swat, and hundreds of Taliban fighters have turned up dead. Both the lashkars and the military are being blamed for the executions.