A suicide bomber has killed the commander of Pakistan’s Frontier Constabulary and four policemen in an attack near a market in Peshawar today. The Taliban carried out the attack despite their claim to have suspended activities due to the flood that has affected millions of Pakistanis.
Siffwat Ghayur, the Commandant Frontier Constabulary, and four of his bodyguards, were killed after a suicide bomber targeted the commander’s car as he left his headquarters in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly the Northwest Frontier Province). The suicide bomber drove a taxi packed with explosives into Ghayur’s vehicle.
Nine civilians and three other policemen were also wounded, some seriously, Geo News reported.
The Frontier Constabulary, a paramilitary police force that operates in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas, serves on the front lines in the fight against the Taliban. Commandant Ghayur is the most senior security official killed by the Taliban this year.
The Taliban carried out today’s attack while Pakistan’s security forces are focused on providing humanitarian assistance to the millions of Pakistanis trapped in the floods that have crippled large areas, including much of the northwest. The floods have given the Taliban a reprieve from military offensives in Arakzai, and have also given them the opportunity to infiltrate various areas while the military is preoccupied.
Today’s suicide bombing was executed by the Taliban despite their claim that they had suspended operations in the flood-hit areas. “We are announcing temporary suspension of Mujahidden activities in the flood-hit area to give another opportunity to the people to seek forgiveness,” Taliban spokesman Mohammed Omar said in a statement, according to The Frontier Post. “We are immediately suspending operations but if the army or the government considered it as our weaknesses and commit any mistake, then the army, the government and the people will face dire consequences.”
Over the past several weeks, the Taliban appear to have shifted tactics and have begun to execute more focused attacks aimed at killing top provincial and security leaders in the northwest. The last attack targeted the outspoken, anti-Taliban information minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while he was attending the funeral for his son, who was assassinated by the Taliban just days earlier. Previously, the Taliban have carried out mainly high-profile, mass-casualty suicide attacks and terror assaults on government and security installations.
The Taliban are conducting a low-intensity campaign of targeted assassinations, kidnappings, and intimidation in Pakistan’s northwest after being dislodged from power in Swat and the eastern region of South Waziristan during military operations over the past year. Hundreds of tribal leaders and politicians who back the government have been killed in the tribal areas and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The Pakistani military claims that thousands of Taliban fighters have been killed, but US military and intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said that Pakistan has exaggerated its successes against the Taliban.
The core of the Taliban’s leadership remains in place, and key commanders whom the Pakistani military claimed to have killed during operations have re-emerged to prove they are indeed alive. Most recently, Mullah Fazlullah, the Taliban’s leader in Swat, was seen on a videotape in which he urged Pakistanis to wage jihad and threatened those who cooperate with the government.