A large group of Taliban fighters crossed over from Afghanistan and attacked a police station in a remote area of Pakistan today. Twenty-three Pakistani troops have been reported killed during the fighting.
A Taliban force estimated at more than 200 fighters who were described as “very well armed with light and heavy weapons” attacked a police station in the village of Shaldalo in Upper Dir in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, sparking a clash that lasted several hours. Some of the fighters were said to be wearing military uniforms, although it is unclear if the uniforms were Afghan or Pakistani.
Pakistani helicopter gunships are reported to have been called in to support the beleaguered police force. Twenty-three security forces personnel have killed and the Taliban are said to have taken heavy casualties as well.
The Taliban reportedly launched today’s attack from across the border in the Afghan province of Kunar, where the Taliban and al Qaeda have established safe havens after US forces withdrew from remote valleys.
The Taliban launched a similar attack on April 22, when more than 400 fighters from Kunar mounted an assault on a police checkpoint in Kharakhai in the district of Lower Dir. The Taliban overran the outpost, killing 16 Pakistani security personnel, five of whom were beheaded.
Two major Taliban groups operate in the region, one commanded by Qari Zai Rahman, and another by Mullah Fazlullah.
Qari Zai Rahman is the dual-hatted Taliban and al Qaeda leader who operates in Pakistan’s tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand, as well as in Afghanistan’s provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. ISAF and Afghan forces have been hunting Rahman for more than a year.
Mullah Fazlullah commands the Taliban forces in the district of Swat, which borders Dir to the east. Fazlullah’s forces openly ruled Swat and neighboring districts from 2007 until April 2009, when the Pakistani military launched an operation to eject the Taliban. Fazlullah and most of his top leaders evaded the operation, however, and have since sheltered along the Afghan-Pakistani border.
- About 200 “launch cross-border attack” on Pakistan post, Reuters
- Police checkpost attacked in Pakistan, Al Jazeera
- Five killed as militants attack Pakistani checkpoint, The Associated Press
- Police: 23 Pakistani troops die in border attackThe Associated Press
- Taliban overrun security outpost, kill 16 Pakistani troops, The Long War Journal
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