The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has claimed credit for a suicide attack in Hangu and a bombing in Upper Dir, both of which targeted anti-Taliban militias.
In the district of Hangu, which borders the tribal areas of North Waziristan and Kurram, a suicide bomber targeted the headquarters of Maulvi Nabi Hanfi in the Spin Thall area, killing five children and four militiamen. Hanfi was previously a commander in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, but “had parted ways with the organization upon developing some differences,” according to Dawn. Hanfi is a rival of Maulvi Noor Jamal, the Taliban commander for the Kurram tribal agency who is also known as Mullah Toofan.
Ihsanullah Ihsan, the spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, claimed credit for the suicide attack in an email sent to The Long War Journal, and described Hanfi’s group as “criminal.”
“We the mujahideen of TTP [Tehrek-e-Taliban Pakistan or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] claim responsibility of Fidai [fedayeen] Attack on the Criminal group of Mullah Nabi,” Ihsan said. “We have conducted this attack against Mullah Nabi group as they have came out against Taliban in their area and formed an armed group against Taliban Mujahideen, They were allies of government & they have killed many of our mujahideen brothers.”
In Upper Dir, the Taliban killed three members of an anti-Taliban militia in an IED or roadside bombing attack against a van traveling in the Dhog Darra area. “Dhog Darra is considered the stronghold of an anti-Taliban militia set up by local people in Upper Dir district,” according to Geo News. Mullah Fazlullah, the Taliban commander for the Swat Valley, is known to operate in Upper Dir and along the Afghan-Pakistani border area. Fazlullah openly controlled the Swat Valley from 2007 until the Pakistani military launched an operation to oust him in 2009.
In the email sent to The Long War Journal, the Taliban spokesman also claimed credit for the Dir attack, and vowed to continue to target the militias and the government until sharia, or Islamic Law, was imposed in Pakistan.
“We also claim responsibility for attacks in Upper Dir on so called Peace Committee and caused heavy losses to them,” Ihsan said. “According to our sources 6-8 of their members were killed in this attack. We will target any ally of government and anyone who will put hurdles in the implementation of Shariah in Pakistan. We will Fight till the Dawn of Shariah appears in Pakistan InshaAllah.”
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has stepped up attacks against Pakistani security forces and anti-Taliban militias over the past several weeks. On July 16, a small assault team killed three policemen in an attack on a police station in Bannu, a district that borders North Waziristan. At the end of June, the Taliban captured 17 policemen in Dir, and executed them. The Taliban later released video of the beheaded soldiers.
Two other recent Taliban attacks have taken place in the eastern province of Punjab. On July 9, the Taliban attacked a military camp in Gurjat, near Lahore, and killed six soldiers and a policeman. And on July 12, a small team of Taliban fighters struck a police facility in Lahore, killing eight policemen and wounding nine more.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.