Taliban assassinate senior Pakistani Army general in Dir

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, an al Qaeda ally, killed a senior Pakistani Army general and two soldiers in a roadside bombing in the northwestern district of Dir today. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack as the government continues to pursue a peace deal with the terror group.

Major General Sanaullah Niazi, a lieutenant colonel, and a soldier were killed “in an IED blast today near Pak-Afghan Border in Upper Dir,” the Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s press office, announced on its website.

“Major General Sanaullah was on a visit to forward post near Pak-Afghan border since last couple of days,” the ISPR statement continued. “After completing visits, he was on his way back when an IED planted by Terrorists on the road side blasted which resulted into shahadat [mertyrdom] of Major General Sanaullah, Lieutenant Colonel Tauseef and Lance Naik Irfan Sattar.”

Sanaullah served as the senior military commander in Swat, the northwestern district which was ruled by the Taliban from 2007 to 2009 after the government negotiated multiple peace deals with Taliban commander Mullah Fazlullah. Lieutenant Colonel Tauseef commanded the 33 Baloch Regiment.

Today’s attack was likely carried out by forces loyal to Fazlullah, who also commands Taliban fighters in Dir and in the greater Malakand Division, a region comprising the northern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Fazlullah, who is also known as Mullah Radio for his radical sermons that are broadcast throughout the northwest, is a senior Taliban commander who has opposed polio vaccinations. He has vowed to continue the fight to regain control of Swat and the surrounding districts. Last year, he ordered the assassination of Malala Yousufzai, the young schoolgirl who passionately spoke out against the Taliban in Swat, and accused her of violating sharia, or Islamic law.

The assassination of Sanaullah took place on the same day the provincial government announced that the military would withdraw its forces from the Malakand Division beginning in October. The military launched an offensive to clear the Malakand Division of the Taliban in late 2009 after the group violated the terms of the peace agreement and advanced to within 60 miles of the capital city of Islamabad.

The military wrested control of Swat, Shangla, and Buner from the Taliban after months of heavy fighting, but failed to kill or capture most of the Taliban’s top leaders. Many of the Taliban’s forces withdrew from the contested districts into more remote areas such as Dir or across the border in Afghanistan’s Taliban-controlled province of Kunar.

The government continues to pursue a peace deal with the Taliban even as its soldiers are coming under fire throughout the northwest. In the past 24 hours, the Taliban killed two soldiers in North Waziristan and a soldier in Bannu, and two members of a pro-government militia in Bajaur.

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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6 Comments

  • Nic says:

    “The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, an al Qaeda ally, killed a senior Pakistani Army general and two soldiers in an roadside bombing in the northwestern district of Dir today.” For the government of Pakistan, having made a Faustian agreement with the Taliban in the past is once again proving that you never bargain with the Devil. “The Taliban claimed credit for the attack as the government continues to pursue a peace deal with the terror group.” The words “peace deal” and “terror group” comprise an oxymoron.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    It wouldn’t matter if they were captured, tortured and beheaded on video. The Pakistanis don’t care about their soldiers. They whine about being major victims of terrorism while doing everything they can to appease it and often to support it. If I was wrong, we wouldn’t still be having these problems 12 years after 9/11.

  • Khalid Khan says:

    Looks like someone is really mad at Pakistan Army trying to talk to the Taliban…..Events such as this killing have been occurring form time and time — especially when the government and Taliban come close to striking a peace deal……..//infoisfun.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/is-killing-of-major-general-sanaullah-a-red-line/

  • jean says:

    The PAK government just annouced a pull out of several areas in FATA. Both regular Army and Frontier Corps.

  • Dave says:

    Never go back the way you came. 45 years later, it still drive my wife nuts that I go back the long way.

  • EDDIED. says:

    One group is fighting and the other group is calling for peace, that just sounds like another way of saying uncle. I really don’t know what to say other than Pakistan you need to start fighting them and let them be the ones to call out for peace.

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