Pakistani commandos killed four al Qaeda operatives and detained 27 suspects during a raid on a hospital in a region in South Waziristan under the control of a Taliban leader considered friendly to the government.
Pakistani troops surrounded the Hafiz Hospital in Wana, the administrative center of South Waziristan, and killed three “Arabs” and a Sudanese al Qaeda operative. The Hafiz Hospital is run by a former member of Pakistan’s national assembly.
“Commandos and security forces raided the hospital,” a Pakistani security official told Dawn. “Militants fired on the troops and in the gunfight, which lasted more than four hours, four militants and a woman were killed, while 27 others were arrested. One soldier was also injured. The three dead militants appear to be Arabs and one of Sudanese origin.”
Pakistani troops raided the hospital after receiving intelligence that the fighters sought treatment from wounds suffered during fighting in the Sherwangi region in the Mehsud tribal areas, where the military is conducting an operation against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
The Wana region is run by Taliban commander Mullah Nazir. Nazir is not a member of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan; he and other Taliban commanders operate independently of that group.
Pakistan’s military and intelligence services consider Nazir and his followers “good Taliban” as they do not openly seek the overthrow of the Pakistani state. However, Nazir openly supports Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, and wages jihad in Afghanistan. More senior al Qaeda leaders have been killed in Nazir’s tribal areas during the US air campaign than in those of any other Taliban leader in Pakistan.
Nazir’s forces continue to operate across the border in Afghanistan. On Dec. 6, his fighters crossed the border and destroyed an Afghan Army outpost.
Earlier this year, just prior to launching a military operation against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in the Mehsud tribal areas in South Waziristan, the military agreed to a peace deal with Nazir as well as with North Waziristan Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadar. Nazir and Bahadar are not members of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Bahadar and the Haqqani Network, which is also based in North Waziristan, are also considered “good” Taliban by the Pakistani government and military.
The peace agreement calls for the Pakistani military to be able to move through Nazir and Bahadar’s tribal areas without being attacked. Another condition of the agreement prohibits Bahadar and Nazir from providing shelter to fleeing members of the Mehsud branch of the Taliban.
But Taliban fighters from the Mehsud tribal areas have sought shelter with Mullah Nazir in the Wazir tribal areas, and the rearguard fighters still opposing the Army’s advance are receiving support from Nazir’s forces, US military and intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.
Bahadar and the Haqqanis are also providing shelter to fleeing Taliban fighters and covert support to the Mehsud Taliban, and they also shelter al Qaeda leaders and fighters.
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