Taliban kill 10 Pakistani troops, capture 40 more in northwest

The Pakistani military was hit hard this week by the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban operating in Pakistan’s lawless northwest. Ten Frontier Corps troops were killed and 40 more were captured during fighting in Bajaur and Mohmand, two regions where the military has declared victory in the recent past.

The Afghan Taliban captured 40 paramilitary Frontier Corps troops yesterday after clashes along the border between the Pakistani tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand. Major General Athar Abbas, Pakistan’s top military spokesman, confirmed the attack and said the Afghan Taliban captured the troops after overrunning a Pakistani military outpost, Reuters reported. The Afghan Taliban released five of the troops at the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, while the 35 other troops are still thought to be in the custody of the Taliban.

The report of the Afghan Taliban capturing Pakistani troops took place just one day after the terror group denied receiving support from Pakistan’s government and intelligence services. Interestingly, the Afghan Taliban have not harmed the Pakistani troops despite claiming that Pakistan supports the US in Afghanistan.

Several major Taliban groups, including the Haqqani Network and the Tora Bora Military Front, operate in Nangarhar and are known to shelter and train across the border in Mohmand and Bajaur. Anwarul Haq Mujahid, the commander of the Tora Bora Military Front, and Maulvi Abdul Kabir, the former leader of the Peshawar Regional Military Council, are both said to be in Pakistani custody.

In a separate incident, 38 Pakistani Taliban and 10 Frontier Corps troops were killed in clashes that took place less than 10 miles away from the town of Khar, the administrative seat of Bajaur. The Pakistani military displayed the bodies of 18 Taliban fighters killed in air and artillery attacks. The military did not detail the circumstances of the deaths of the Frontier Corps troops.

Just yesterday, the Taliban issued pamphlets in Bajaur announcing their return and threatening to kill tribesmen who support the government. In the pamphlets, the Taliban “threatened the people, particularly the government employees and security forces, not to support the agenda of the US and its allies,” The News reported. “The militants said that they would continue their ‘jihad’ against the US and its supporters. They also urged the Taliban fighters not to surrender to the government and warned them and security forces of stern action.”

Over the past 18 months, the Pakistani military has twice declared victory in Bajaur and Mohmand.

The first time was on March 1, 2009, when Major General Tariq Khan declared victory in Bajaur. “They have lost,” Khan told reporters after a brutal campaign that began in August 2008 was declared to have ended. “Their resistance has broken down. We think we have secured this agency. The Taliban have lost their cohesion.” And in the neighboring tribal agency of Mohmand, Colonel Saif Ullah claimed the Taliban had been defeated and that the region was “under the control of law enforcement agencies.”

But the Taliban continued to exert control in Bajaur and Mohmand during 2009, killing tribal leaders who dared to work with the Pakistani government and military.

Earlier this year, General Khan again claimed victory in Bajaur. On March 2, 2010, one year and one day after claiming the Taliban had lost in Bajaur, Khan again declared victory. He said that more than 2,200 Taliban fighters had been killed during two years of military operations.

Yet although the military claimed to have defeated the Taliban in Bajaur and Mohmand in both 2009 and 2010, the senior leaders in these tribal agencies remain at large.

Faqir Mohammed, a senior leader in Hakeemullah Mehsud’s Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and a close ally to al Qaeda’s Ayman Zawahiri, has not been killed or captured during the offensive. Military officials claimed Faqir was killed in August 2008, but the leader later surfaced. Faqir established a parallel government in Bajaur, complete with sharia courts, recruiting centers and training camps, taxation, and security forces.

The US has conducted several airstrikes Bajaur, including two attacks that targeted Zawahiri and another that killed Abu Sulayman Jazairi, a senior Algerian operative for al Qaeda who was the terror groups’ operational commander tasked with planning attacks against the West.

Omar Khalid, the Taliban commander in Mohmand and a deputy of Hakeemullah’s Taliban movement, also remains at large. He is considered one of the most effective and powerful leaders in the tribal areas after Hakeemullah and Faqir.

Khalid gained prominence in Mohmand during the summer of 2007 after taking over a famous shrine and renaming it the Red Mosque, after the radical mosque in Islamabad whose followers attempted to impose sharia in the capital. He became the dominant Taliban commander in Mohmand in July 2008 after defeating the Shah Sahib group, a rival pro-Taliban terror group with ties to the Lashkar-e-Taiba. During the summer of 2008, Khalid declared sharia in Mohmand.

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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13 Comments

  • Ayamo says:

    Didn’t the military claim that TTP has been defeated in South Waziristan alltogether?
    Good job, guys.

  • T Ruth says:

    Wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the whole show was a stage-managed charade to deflect the recent LSE report assertions.
    Particlarly if one reads this excerpt from a New America Foundation paper
    “Lashkar-linked groups appear
    to have the highest degree of integration and cooperation
    with other actors in Bajaur and Mohmand. There are two
    likely reasons for this. First, Lashkar’s networks are
    strongest in these two agencies, where a number of other
    actors also operate. Second, the location of these agencies
    makes them ideal for infiltrating militants across the border
    to take part in the insurgency in eastern Afghanistan.
    However, collaboration is not limited to Bajaur and
    Mohmand.”
    Detailed report @
    //www.newamerica.net/sites/newamerica.net/files/policydocs/tankel.pdf
    When was the last time that 40 Pak soldiers were captured, and what became of them?
    On the 10 soldiers allegedly killed, as Bill astutely reports
    “The military did not detail the circumstances of the deaths of the Frontier Corps troops.”
    With AHQ’s record of lying thru their teeth, how can we know?

  • Render says:

    Jalabad eh?
    WHAT
    BORDER?,
    R

  • hillbilly says:

    Deception,ruse and Psywars etc.have been integral part of warfare throughout human history…..dont cry foul when beaten in your own game.no one likes sour losers.

  • ward says:

    I’ve noticed for sometime now, that the headlines can be biased. This story leads with the good guys in the negative. Why not lead with the 38 Taliban Killed?

  • DL says:

    @ward Because that doesn’t play into the unwinnable war and the strategy has failed despite all of the troops not even being there yet narrative.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    DL, I think ward is referring to this specific article, and others on Pakistan here at LWJ, not Afghanistan.I’d challenge you to find such a headline on Afghanistan here.
    Ward, the answer for this article is:
    1) two events are outlines here, whereas describing just 38 Taliban killed describes a single incident
    2) 10 soldiers killed and 40 kidnapped is a significant event. Particularly when the Pakistani military has declared victory here.
    If you are asking about LWJ headlines in general, my advice is to scroll down the front page and you’ll see there is a mix.
    The reality is with headlines, no matter what you do, someone is sure to take offense. If I wrote “38 Taliban killed in Pakistani airstrikes” someone would be sure to complain that we can’t trust Pak military figures and most were likely civilians (they of course would be right).

  • yash says:

    this is good news…. terrorists are killing their mentors

  • T Ruth says:

    Without doubt the 40 Paks captured is the more curious story. And what do they do, go knock on the door at the Jalalabad consulate and say we have a delivery for you?
    It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out with the rest of the 35…
    Ward, the devil is in the detail, not in the headline IF you are following all this. I like it actually that one uses one own brain rather than Bill just spoonfeeding us. Also the discussion so i do respect your viewpoint.
    Also, the ‘word’ is not the ‘thing’, and it is the ‘thing’ that we are grappling with. Pakistan, its sanctuary to AQ, its perpetuation of violence in the name of Islam, Saudi Arabia which hasn’t a clue of the meaning of freedom, together their decision to not live peacably with other cultures be they of the East or West. Both regimes taking their own people for a massive ride while lining their own pockets for generations to come.

  • Charu says:

    I seem to recall that the Pakistan military battalions are made up of different ethnic groups and they are deployed in regions that they are not native to. The Frontier Corps may be largely Shia while the Taliban are Sunni; which could explain why Frankenstein bites back at his master.

  • Neo says:

    T Ruth
    Charting Pakistan’s duplicity is still a matter of collecting and analyzing fact. Your contention that this was a staged incident, hasn’t a shred of evidence to back it up. Your assertion that it is just another Pakistani plot orchestrated to deflect criticism, is pure conjecture. Have you any evidence?
    I’m not asking for sympathy for Pakistani. I personally haven’t any. I’m am suggesting that floating off into conspiracy theories is both intellectually dishonest and feeds off of blind hatred. We have plenty of evidence of Pakistani duplicity (that duplicity runs against both sides). That evidence needs to be fleshed out and carefully considered, rather than embellished and fictionalized.

  • Zeissa says:

    T Ruth, I think that’s harsh. The Saud family seem to be doing an adequate job to me. Its their country that is radical.

  • Spooky says:

    The generals may be imbeciles for what they did starting in the Zia era, but to poo poo the common soldier who, like any common soldier, is just trying to protect his country, is a bit nasty on our part.
    Even if one can’t appreciate the sense of duty, bear in mind that as bad as the Army is and as connected with the Mujahiddeen as they have been (which is no real surprise, though I call baloney on the Zardari connection for reasons that any Zardari watcher would know to be obvious), the Army is still the only thing keeping the enemy at bay. They are still the preferrable evil in this.
    What I want to know is how much more can the lower ranks take before they either stage something against the officers or have their demographic even more susceptible to recruitment by the enemy after all the crap their generals put them through. I mean yeah, they have to fight the Taliban, but GHQ should seriously at least TRY to keep their soldiers alive lest morale be broken.

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