Posts Tagged ‘Pakistani Taliban in 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.

 LiveLeak.com – Taliban brutally execute Pakistani police in Dir.

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

https://afpakwatch.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/taliban-regrouping-in-dir/

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By Zia Ur Rehman
For CentralAsiaOnline.com
2011-08-01

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 Friday Times Logo

Report by Zia Ur Rehman

The Friday Times

July 29 – Aug 04, 2011

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20110729&page=5

Cross-border attacks show that Swat Taliban, who had fled to Afghanistan during the 2009 army operation, are now gaining foothold in Malakand

A graphic video footage was posted on the LiveLeak website on 18 July, showing militants executing 18 Pakistani policemen who were captured from Upper Dir. In the video, the Taliban militants first accuse the policemen of being enemies of God and of killing six children during the military operation in Swat, and then fire at the policemen, killing them all.

The policemen were captured on June 1 after around 300 Taliban militants crossed the border from Kunar province of Afghanistan and attacked police checkposts and villages in the Shaltalu area of Upper Dir, killing 75 people including 30 paramilitary and police personnel, according to locals and police officials. The video has not been attributed to a specific Taliban faction, but police officials and locals believe that the killings were carried out by the militants of Swat and Dir who had dispersed and fled to Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan during the military operation in 2009. They are now regrouping and trying to regain a foothold in the region. “In the video, the faces of militants were covered, but their Pashto accent clearly showed they belong to Swat or Dir,” a parliamentarian elected from Upper Dir told TFT.

In the past four months, 14 cross-border incursions allegedly carried out by Pakistani militants with the help of Afghan Taliban demonstrated the continued strength of the militants in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas, in spite of several recent Pakistani military operations and the presence of NATO troops across the border. Most of the attacks took place in Dir region while other incursions have occurred in Bajaur Agency, Mohmand Agency, Chitral and South Wazirstan Agency. Dozens of people, including security personnel and members of anti-Taliban Lashkars, have been killed. The most recent attack occurred on July 24 when more than 50 militants crossed the border from Afghanistan and stormed the Kitkot village in Mamond Tehsil in Bajaur Agency. Residents of the bordering areas, especially Upper Dir and Bajaur, are now asking the government not to install additional security posts in their areas for fear of new attacks.

The government believes Pakistani Taliban have hideouts in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces from where NATO had pulled out its troops. “Terrorists from Swat had found safe havens these areas in Afghanistan and are launching cross-border attacks inside Pakistan from there,” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general Maj Gen Athar Abass told BBC Urdu. Many security analysts believe that militants led by Maulvi Fazlullah, Maulvi Faqir Muhammad and Hafizullah (heads of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in Swat, Bajaur Agency and Dir region respectively) who fled to Afghanistan during the 2009 military operation, have started returning and are now targeting their rivals, especially the security forces. The assertion was seemingly corroborated by the TTP leaders when they claimed responsibility for the attacks in Dir. Omar Hassan Ahrabi, a spokesman for TTP in Malakand division, said his organisation had carried out the attack “with Afghan allies”.

The attacks also show that the militants are not only regrouping but also adopting a new strategy of large-scale attacks on government and security forces. TTP Bajaur leader Faqir Muhammad, previous thought dead, recently told The News that his group, in collaboration with Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban, had changed its strategy and would now focus on large-scale attacks on state targets and security agencies like it did in Dir.

Hafizullah, who hails from Nihag Darra in Upper Dir, heads the TTP in Dir region, but Qari Abdul Jabbar from Timergara is emerging as a new leader, said a TTP militant from the region. He said Jabbar heads a small group of around 400 militants chased out of Malakand during the military operation. Elders and police officials in Upper Dir say militants are hiding in and operating from Kunar and Nuristan with the help of Qari Ziaur Rehman, a key commander of Al Qaeda who hails from Kunar. Rehman operates in Pakistan’s Bajaur and Mohmand tribal regions as well as in Kunar and Nuristan in Afghanistan.

“The presence of the militants in three areas in Upper and Lower Dir has already been reported: the Osherai pass that links Swat with Upper Dir, Barawal that borders with Afghanistan’s Kunar province, and the Maidan area of Lower Dir that borders with Bajaur Agency”, said Khadim Hussain, a security expert who has worked extensively on militancy issues in the Tribal Areas.

Locals claim that the militants have begun roaming in their hills, 12 schools in the area have been reportedly destroyed, and many pro-government people have been killed in the last few months. That sends shockwaves through the region and belies the military’s claims of having cleared the area.

Instead of weakening the militants, the army operation seems to have shifted the hub of militancy from settled areas of Swat and Dir to the border areas, said Bahram Khan, a leader of anti-Taliban militia in Upper Dir.

The alliance between the leadership of Al Qaeda, the TTP, Afghan Taliban and other national and transnational militant groups might be looking for a new but familiar safe haven in Malakand before starting a military offensive in North Waziristan, Khadim Hussain told the TFT. He said the recent cross-border attacks may be precursors to a battle between the security forces and the Taliban for the social and administrative control of Malakand division after high-profile targets were targeted by Drone attacks in FATA.

Afghan authorities have also expressed concerns over infiltration from the Dir and Chitral areas of Pakistan to Afghan provinces of Nuristan ad Kunar. “Both Afghan and Pakistani Taliban from the bordering areas are regularly attacking the Afghan security officials and people in Nuristan’s Bargmatal and Kamdesh districts,” Nuristan governor Jamaluddin Badar told Afghan media.

Security officials say the militants will not be able to regain control of Dir. Instead, they will continue the hit-and-run tactics, an ideal guerrilla-warfare approach in the rocky terrain. There will be significant impact on the neighbouring Bajaur Agency, Swat and Chitral districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan. Dir will be a strategic base for attacks in these areas and a safe haven for militants fleeing military operations in these regions.

Zia Ur Rehman is a journalist and a researcher who works on militancy and human rights. He can be contacted at zia_red@hotmail.com

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 29
July 22, 2011

http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=38213&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=7&cHash=f21432ca71d0e6d71528309c59769b6d

Eleven cross-border incursions over the last four months in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region have taken place despite several army operations in Pakistan and the NATO presence across the border in Afghanistan, demonstrating the continued strength of militants in the border region. The incursions, allegedly carried out by Pakistani militants with help from Afghan allies, have killed 56 people, including security personnel and members of anti-Taliban militias (The News [Islamabad], July 9). Most of the attacks were carried out in Dir region where militants of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who had dispersed and fled to Afghanistan and adjacent tribal areas during military operations are regrouping and trying to regain a foothold in the region (see Terrorism Monitor, March 3). Other incursions have occurred in Chitral, Bajaur Agency, Momand Agency and South Waziristan Agency.

An account of the largest of these cross border attacks depicts militant groups operating with greater frequency while facing only minimal interference in the frontier region:

• On April 22, a border security post in the Lowere Dir village of Kharkhai came under attack by militants, resulting in the death of more than 16 security personnel (Daily Azadi, April 29).

• On June 1, the deadliest of the cross border raids was carried out in Upper Dir’s Shaltalo village, where hundreds of heavily armed militants targeted a poorly defended security post. They killed 34 people, 26 of them security officials, and captured 16 policemen (Express Tribune [Karachi], June 3). On July 18 the Afghan Taliban released a video showing the bound policemen being executed somewhere inside Afghanistan, allegedly as retribution for the death of six Pakistani children killed during security operations in Swat district (Daily Azadi [Swat], July 19;  BBC Urdu, July 19; www.youtube.com/watch.

• On June 6, over 200 militants crossed the border and raided the homes of local anti-Taliban militia members in the Mamond area of Bajaur, killing roughly 15 people (Daily Azadi [Swat], June 7).

• The latest of the cross-border attacks was launched in the Nusrat Darra area of Upper Dir on July 6. A member of the local anti-Taliban militia was killed, several others injured and three schools destroyed during the attack (The News, July 9). [1]

Residents of Pakistan’s border areas are now requesting the government not install additional security posts in their areas for fear of inciting new attacks while migrations have started abruptly from the border villages.  [2]

Although the Pakistani government blamed the Afghan Taliban for carrying out the cross-border attacks, local security analysts and tribal elders say that the attacks were carried out in Dir region and other tribal areas by Pakistani militants, especially accomplices of Maulana Fazlullah and Maulana Faqir Muhammad, the heads of the TTP in Swat and Bajaur region respectively, with the help of Afghan militants. [3] Media reports claimed that Fazlullah and several high-profile TTP commanders had fled to the Nuristan or Kunar provinces of Afghanistan due to military operations in Swat in 2009. However, it is possible Fazlullah’s group members have started returning and are now targeting their enemies, especially the security forces. This was seemingly confirmed by TTP leaders when they claimed responsibility for the attacks in Dir region. Omar Hassan Ahrabi, a spokesperson for the TTP Malakand Division, said that his organization had carried out the attack “with Afghan allies” (Pak Tribune, July 7). However, Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Afghan Taliban, denied involvement in the attack on Pakistani territory, describing it as an internal matter for Pakistan. He further stressed that the Afghan Taliban insurgents limit their operations to Afghanistan and never launch attacks in Pakistan or any other country (The News[Islamabad] July 12).

Current attacks in Dir and adjacent tribal areas might also indicate that Pakistani militants are not only regrouping in these areas, but also adopting a new strategy of large-scale attacks on government targets and security forces. TTP Bajaur leader Faqir Muhammad says their forces have joined with al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban in changing their strategy to focus on large-scale attacks on state targets and security agencies, such as Dir attacks (The News, June 3).

The recent cross-border attacks may be precursors of a battle between the security forces and the Taliban for the social and administrative control of Malakand division and the Bajaur and Mohmand Agencies after high-profile militants were targeted by CIA Predator drones in FATA. One Peshawar-based security analyst suggested that the alliance between the leadership of al-Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban and other national and transnational militant organizations might be looking for a new but familiar safe haven in the shape of Malakand division prior to starting a military offensive in North Waziristan. [4] Local elders believe the Taliban’s combination of targeted attacks on security forces and indiscriminate assaults on civilians seem designed to create fear amongst the local population so that they do not create armed militias to defend their territory. [5]

Reports from Afghanistan suggest that the cross-border attacks run both ways, especially in the remote regions of eastern Afghanistan. Afghan authorities, including the governors of Kunar and Nuristan, complain regularly about the incursion of militants from Pakistan, especially from the areas of Dir, Chitral and Bajaur. The largest attack took place in Kamdish district in Nuristan, where hundreds of militants, most of them alleged to be Pakistanis, crossed the border from Dir in Pakistan and targeted the district, killing scores of people, including 23 policemen (Pajhwok Afghan News, July 5). Afghan officials also claim that 760 rockets have been fired by Pakistani security forces into eastern Afghan border provinces of Kunar, Nangahar and Khost in the past six weeks, killing at least 60 people and wounding hundreds more (Wakht News Agency [Kabul], June 24).  In the past three months, up to 12,000 civilians in eastern Afghanistan have been displaced by increasingly regular shelling from the Pakistan side of the border.

The attacks on both sides of the border appear to be intended to disrupt the relationship between the two countries and create mistrust at the highest levels. [6] If this is the case, the strategy seems to be a success; instead of tackling the issue of cross-border incursions directly or cooperatively, both countries are busy lodging official protests against each other, both accusing their neighbor of being responsible for harboring militant groups operating along the border. Pakistani army officials have also said that NATO forces were failing to crack down on militants seeking shelter on the Afghan side of border.

The recent cross-border incursions on both sides of the border clearly show that Pakistan, Afghanistan and NATO have all failed badly in clearing the strategically important border areas of militants, permitting previously dispersed extremist organizations to regroup and prepare new, large-scale attacks on the soil of both countries. Though the security forces of both countries have begun operations to repel further attacks, the Islamabad and Kabul governments are unlikely to be successful until they deal collectively with the issue of cross-border militancy.

Notes:

1. Author’s telephone interviews with Upper Dir locals, July 12, 2011.
2. Author’s telephone interviews with tribal elders of Upper Dir and Bajour, July 12, 2011.
3. Author’s telephone interview with Aqeel Yousafzai, a Peshawar-based journalist and security analyst, July 11, 2011.
4. Author’s interview with Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar-based security analyst, July 13, 2011.
5. Author’s telephone interviews with elders of Upper Dir and Bajaur, July 12, 2011.
6. Author’s interview with Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar-based security analyst, July 13, 2011.