Posts Tagged ‘Kunar’

Warning: The video below is extremely graphic in nature. If you choose to watch this video, you will see the Taliban brutally execute more than a dozen bound Pakistani policemen. The Taliban then proceed to pump rounds into those who survived the initial firing. – Taliban brutally execute Pakistani police in Dir.

Read my piece on video of brutally execution of Policemen and  regrouping of militants in Dir region.


By Zia Ur Rehman

KARACHI – Pakistani and Afghan Taliban members have teamed up to attack both countries’ border areas, killing innocent residents and aiming to disrupt security co-operation between Islamabad and Kabul, security analysts say.

”]More than a dozen cross-border terrorist incursions over the past four months in Pakistan’s border region have taken place, killing hundreds of civilians and security personnel, media reported.

Most of the attacks took place in the Dir region, from where Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants, defeated by a military operation in Malakand Division, fled to Afghanistan. Other incursions have occurred in Bajaur Agency, Mohmand Agency and South Waziristan Agency.

Media reports from Afghanistan also suggest that the cross-border incursions run both ways, especially in the remote region of eastern Afghanistan. Afghan authorities, including the governors of Kunar and Nuristan, complain regularly about militant incursions from border areas.

The largest attack took place in Kamdish District of Nuristan July 5, where hundreds of militants, most of them alleged to be Pakistanis, crossed the border from an area near Dir, killing scores of people, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

“Pakistani militant groups and their leaders including Maulana Fazlullah, Faqeer Muhammad, Abdul Wali and Hakeemullah, all have found sanctuaries in bordering region from where they are now conducting cross-border attacks into Pakistani territory,” Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said in a recent interview.

A joint commission has been formed in Peshawar that will decide how to deal with the cross-border violence and the militants, he said.

Pakistan has 147,000 troops deployed at 900 posts along the border who have repelled numerous attacks, killing dozens of militants, Abbas said.

A disruptive new Taliban strategy

The violence on both sides of the border is a new Taliban strategy intended to disrupt the relationship between the two countries and create mistrust at the highest levels, Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar-based security analyst, told Central Asia Online.

Though the security forces of both countries have begun operations to repel further attacks, the Islamabad and Kabul governments should deal collectively with the issue of cross-border militancy, Hussain added.

“It is now imperative to establish a co-ordination mechanism among Pakistan, Afghanistan and (international ) forces in Afghanistan with a view to developing a joint strategy to push back the present cross-border terrorism, as an alliance among the leaders of al-Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban and other militant organisations has been formed,” he said.

“It could be an al-Qaeda or TTP strategy to sabotage the growing trust between Afghanistan and Pakistan and co-operation,” said Afghan journalist Abbas Daiyar.

Al-Qaeda wants to destroy the friendly relationship between Islamabad and Kabul by creating war hysteria and an atmosphere of mutual distrust, Daiyar told Central Asia Online.

Fazlullah and other TTP leaders are trying to regain a foothold in Malakand Division and tribal areas but will not succeed, said Brig. (ret.) Shoukat Qadir, a security expert based in Islamabad.

Security forces have shattered the basic network of the TTP in Swat, Bajaur and other tribal areas during military operations, forcing them to flee to Afghanistan, Qadir told Central Asia Online.

Residents of the border regions have formed peace committees to protect their areas and help push back militants, Haji Talimand Khan, an elder of Nustrat Darra in Upper Dir, said.

“Taliban militants recently released a graphic video showing (them) barbarously executing 18 innocent policemen, which has created much hatred … among the people of Malakand,” he said. All of the policemen were from Upper Dir and captured in a June 1 cross-border ambush in the Shaltalu area.

“The Taliban are enemies of the Pashtun people, and they have nothing to do with Islam,” Khan said.

Security forces have sealed the Pakistani-Afghan border in Malakand Division to stop militant attacks and cross-border infiltration, said Dr. Fakhr-e-Alam, commissioner of Malakand Division.

“Any militant infiltration of Pakistani territory will be considered a violation of international borders and will be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

The border areas of Dir and Bajaur have emerged as a new hub of militancy in Pakistan, and stand to threaten peace efforts.

Himal SouthAsian, Web Exclusive

28 June 2011

By Zia Ur Rehman

In the past two months, Pakistan’s Bajaur Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), along with Dir district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, saw three cross-border incursions, allegedly carried out by Pakistani militants with help from Afghan allies. These attacks, which took place despite several army operations in Pakistan and the NATO presence across the border in Afghanistan, demonstrated the continued strength of militants along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area. The situation also prompted discussion on cross-border militant movement during the recent meeting of the high-level Afghanistan-Pakistan joint commission in Islamabad.




The most recent cross-border attack occurred on 16 June, when more than 200 militants crossed the border and raided the houses of local anti-Taliban militia in the Mamond area of Bajaur, killing around nine civilians. Casualties rose to 15 militants and 12 security personnel during subsequent clashes between the Pakistani security forces and the militants. Earlier, on 1 June, a three-day clash resulted in the deaths of dozens of people in Barawal, in Upper Dir, after hundreds of heavily armed militants targeted a poorly defended security post in Shaltalu. Likewise, on 22 April, a border security post in Lower Dir came under attack by militants, resulting in the death of more than 16 security personnel. Residents of Barawal are now requesting the government not to install additional security posts in their areas, for fear of inciting new attacks.
While the Pakistan government blames the Afghan Taliban for this violence, local tribal elders and security experts believe otherwise.
According to the latter, these attacks have probably been carried out by Pakistani militants, especially accomplices of Maulana Fazlullah, head of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Swat, with help from Afghan militants. Reportedly, following the 2009 military operation in Swat, Fazlullah and his commanders fled to nearby provinces in Afghanistan, and some believe that these exiled forces have now been returning and targeting their rivals, including the security forces. The TTP claimed responsibility for the 1 June attacks in Dir, thus seeming corroborate this assertion. Omar Hassan Ahrabi, a spokesperson for the TTP in Malakand Division, said that the group had carried out the attacks together ‘with [its] Afghan allies’, adding that the attackers had managed to seize Pakistani anti-aircraft weapons before returning safely to hideouts in Afghanistan.
Apart from the possibility of Pakistani militants regrouping in Malakand and Bajaur, many security observers suggest that these groups are adopting a new strategy of large-scale attacks against government and security forces. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, a TTP leader in Bajaur previously thought dead, recently stated that the TTP, in collaboration with al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, plans to target state and security agencies. While the reappearance of Faqir Muhammad is already a major blow to ongoing peace efforts in insurgency-affected areas, such large-scale attacks will make the attempt at debilitating the group even harder.
In the aftermath of the Osama bin Laden operation in Abbottabad, the group has stepped up suicide bombings, attacks on paramilitary cadets, a naval base and a US consulate convoy. This has challenged government assertions that army operations against the militants have succeeded. Indeed, instead of weakening the militants, the army operations seem to have merely translocated the hub of militancy from tribal areas to provincial areas such as Dir. Local people in Upper Dir claim that the militants have begun roaming on their hills. And while nine schools in the area have been reportedly destroyed by the militants, others have remained closed after receiving threatening letters from the TTP. Beginning this year, the TTP militants have also started targeting ‘pro-government’ elders and police personnel – sending not only shockwaves among locals of Dir, but also belying the military’s claims of clearing the area of the militants.
The latest attacks on civilians seem to be the militants’ way of deterring the locals from forming an armed anti-Taliban militia, as they have done in the past. In mid-June 2009, such an armed militia had killed two militant commanders in Dogh Daara, Dir. After the recent militant attack on Dir, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has announced stronger support for such village militias. Nonetheless, past experience looms large; previous experimentation with militias has had catastrophic outcomes, as the militants struck back with suicide bombings, killing villagers and tribesmen indiscriminately. In June 2010, for instance, a suicide attack at a local mosque in Dogh Daara killed 30 tribesmen. In addition to indiscriminate suicide bombings, the militants have also tended to kidnap militia personnel and take them to bordering provinces in Afghanistan.
The security and government officials say that the TTP militants will not be able to regain control of the Dir region. Instead, it will likely restrict their fighting to hit-and-run tactics, an ideal guerrilla-warfare approach in the rugged terrain of Dir. More worryingly threat posed by these cross-border attacks has already had a significant impact on neighbouring districts and tribal areas. Because Dir borders Bajaur, districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa such as Swat and Chitral, and Afghanistan, it will not only provide a strategic base for attacks in these areas, but will also act as a sanctuary for militants fleeing military operations in neighbouring regions. Afghanistan has already accused the Pakistani militants for attacks on its soil, in particular in Kunar and Nuristan provinces bordering Pakistan. It is therefore imperative that the governments of Islamabad and Kabul collectively tackle the issue of cross-border militant incursions – before the attacks become as ‘large-scale’ as the militants seem to be threatening.
Zia Ur Rehman is a freelance journalist and researcher based in Karachi.