Hundreds of Taliban fighters launched an attack on security forces and civilians in northwestern Pakistan today, resulting in a clash that led to the deaths of 30 Taliban fighters and one soldier.
Pakistani officials claimed that a force of more than 200 Taliban fighters attacked security personnel and civilians in Barawal in the northwestern district of Upper Dir. The attack was launched from across the border in Afghanistan, officials claimed. Pakistani security forces and tribesmen repelled the attack, “and the intruders slipped back” into Afghanistan, one official told Dawn.
While no group has claimed credit for the attack, the Taliban is the likely culprit. A group of Taliban fighters under the command of Swat leader Mullah Fazlullah is known to operate in the region. Also, Qari Zia Rahman, the dual-hatted al Qaeda and Taliban commander, operates on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border area. These commanders, along with Faqir Mohammad, have been launching numerous raids on both sides of the border; many of the attacks have targeted government forces and anti-Taliban militias [see LWJ report, Pakistani Taliban kidnap 25 boys in northwest, for more details].
Raids by the Taliban on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border have increased this year as the terror groups have expanded their footholds in the region [see LWJ report, Taliban step up cross-border attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan]. The Taliban have struck at Pakistani military outposts in Bajaur, Dir, and Chitral, as well as district centers in Kunar and Nuristan in Afghanistan.
In one of the larger attacks in Pakistan, 27 policemen and 45 Taliban fighters were killed during battles in the Shaltalu area of the district of Dir in the beginning of June. At least 16 policemen were captured and then brutally executed by the Taliban. A video of the execution was released on the Internet [see LWJ report, Video of brutal Taliban execution of Pakistani policemen emerges].
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