Archive for the ‘Bajaur’ Category

Pakistanis Mired in Brutal Battle to Oust Taliban

November 11, 2008

LOE SAM, Pakistan — When Pakistan’s army retook this strategic stronghold from the Taliba last month, it discovered how deeply Islamic militants had encroached on — and literally dug into — Pakistani territory.

Behind mud-walled family compounds in the Bajaur area, a vital corridor to Afghanistan through Pakistan’s tribal belt, Taliban insurgents created a network of tunnels to store arms and move about undetected.

Some tunnels stretched for more than half a mile and were equipped with ventilation systems so that fighters could withstand a long siege. In some places, it took barrages of 500-pound bombs to break the tunnels apart.

“These were not for ordinary battle,” said Gen. Tariq Khan, the commander of the Pakistan Frontier Corps, who led the army’s campaign against the Taliban in the area.

After three months of sometimes fierce fighting, the Pakistani Army controls a small slice of Bajaur. But what was initially portrayed as a paramilitary action to restore order in the area has become the most sustained military campaign by the Pakistani Army against the Taliban and its backers in Al Qaeda since Pakistan allied itself with the United States in 2001.

By Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah
The New York Times


Above: Pakistani soldiers walk down a road in Loe Sam town in Bajaur tribal region. Pool photo by Emilio Morenatti

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to make the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan a top priority. The Bajaur campaign serves as a cautionary tale of the formidable challenge that even a full-scale military effort faces in flushing the Taliban and Al Qaeda from rugged northern Pakistan.

Pakistani officials describe the area as the keystone of an arc of militancy that stretches across the semiautonomous tribal region of Pakistan and into Afghanistan.

Under heavy pressure from the United States, Pakistani officials are vowing to dislodge the Taliban fighters and their Qaeda allies who have taken refuge in the tribal areas.

But a two-day visit to Loe Sam and Khar, the capital of Bajaur, arranged for foreign journalists by the Pakistani military, suggested that Pakistan had underestimated a battle-hardened opponent fighting tenaciously to protect its mountainous stronghold.

Taliban militants remain entrenched in many areas. Even along the road to Loe Sam, which the army laboriously cleared, sniper fire from militants continues.

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Pakistan: Bomb Kills Tribal Elders Meeting to Take on Taliban, al-Qaeda

November 6, 2008

A bomb has killed at least nine people and wounded nearly 40 at a gathering of tribal elders in the Pakistani tribal area of Bajaur, hospital staff say.

The bomb went off when the tribal elders were gathering to draw up a plan to drive militants out of their area as part of a government anti-Taleban plan.




Bajaur is a crucial hub for insurgents, with access routes to Afghanistan and the rest of Pakistan.

Hospital staff say they expect the number of casualties to increase.

Officials say that the bomb – detonated by remote control – targeted members of the Salarzai tribe as they were discussing ways to evict the Taleban from their area. They say that a senior tribal elder, Sazlal Karim, was among the dead.

Targeting elders

In a separate incident on Thursday, officials said that at least four suspected militants were killed in aerial bombing by Pakistani jets in Bajaur.

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KHAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – A suicide bomber killed 10 people and wounded 30 when he blew himself up at a meeting of ethnic Pashtun tribal leaders in northwest Pakistan‘s Bajaur area on the Afghan border on Thursday, government officials said.

Pakistani security forces are fighting Islamist al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Bajaur and authorities are encouraging tribesmen to raise militias to force militants from the region.

The bombing took place as about 200 men of the pro-government Salarzai tribe gathered in Batmalai village, 20 km (12 miles) north of Khar, for a jirga, or tribal council, to draw up a plan to drive militants out of their area, the officials said.

“The bomber walked up to the jirga and set off explosives strapped to his body. Ten people were killed,” a senior government official in Khar, the main town in the region, told Reuters by telephone.

Another government official, Jameel Khan, said 30 people were wounded in the blast.

Pakistani troops patrol in the troubled Bajaur region in September ... 
Pakistani troops patrol in the troubled Bajaur region in September 2008. Ten people were killed and 45 injured when a suspected suicide bomber blew himself up at a gathering of tribesmen in Bajaur — a Pakistani region known as a Taliban safe haven.(AFP/File/Aamir Qureshi)

Tribal elder Kamal Khan said: “We don’t know how and when he got there. We just heard a blast and then people started running here and there.”


It was the second attack on a tribal council meeting in less than a month and the latest attack in an intensifying campaign by militants that has raised fears for Pakistan, a nuclear-armed U.S. ally which is also struggling with an economic crisis.

A suicide car bomber attacked a meeting in the Orakzai region, south of Bajaur, on October 10 killing more than 50 people and wounding more than 100.

Tribal elder Kamal Khan said their drive against the militants would go on.

“This bombing won’t deter us but will make us more committed to drive out the miscreants,” he said.

The military says more than 1,500 militants have been killed in fighting in Bajaur since August. There is no independent verification of the military’s casualty estimate.

Separately, authorities released a Taliban militant commander and three of his comrades in exchange for the release of 10 soldiers abducted by militants near the northwestern town of Hangu, a government official said.

In another incident, militants fired five rockets at the airport in the main northwestern city of Peshawar on Wednesday night but there were no casualties, police said.

Three of the rockets fell on empty land near the airport. The other two landed inside the airport perimeter but caused no damage, they said.

(Additional reporting by Mian Saeed-ur-Rehman; Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Robert Birsel and Paul Tait)


US diplomat warns no blank cheque for Pakistan

October 21, 2008

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – The top US diplomat for South Asia met Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and warned that international donors would only give carefully targeted aid to the troubled country.

US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher visited Pakistan as its leaders face a growing Islamic militant insurgency and major economic difficulties.

Top US diplomat for South Asia Richard Boucher (left) met Pakistan ...
Top US diplomat for South Asia Richard Boucher (left) met Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and warned that international donors would only give carefully targeted aid to the troubled country(AFP/Farooq Naeem)

But Boucher warned that no hand-outs would be available from the “Friends of Pakistan” — a group of nations, including China, the US, Britain and the UAE, which have pledged to help the country to stabilise.

“There is no money on the table,” Boucher told reporters in Islamabad. “The goal is to put the money where it belongs. It is not a cash advance.”

Pakistan has denied being at risk of defaulting on its foreign loans or suffering a balance of payments crisis.

Shaukat Tareen, the new finance adviser to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, repeated at the weekend there was “no danger” of a loan default.

However, he admitted “plan C” was a loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Boucher’s visit came after a series of US missile strikes into the country’s tribal regions that have strained bilateral relations.

He and Zardari had discussed the “war on terror” and Pakistan’s worsening economic problems, a Pakistani government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The United States says insurgents striking international troops in Afghanistan are based in Pakistan’s border tribal belt, and has stepped up its missile attacks since a new government came to power in Islamabad in March.

Ties between the allies were further tested last month by US special forces in Afghanistan launching a raid into Pakistan that killed several Pakistanis.

Zardari has vowed zero tolerance against violations of his country’s sovereignty amid the attacks, which have stoked anti-US sentiment in Pakistan.

In the latest of Pakistan’s own military operations against Islamic militants, at least 12 Taliban were killed when jets and artillery pounded hideouts in a tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said.

The clashes took place in Bajaur, where Pakistani troops and militants linked to Al-Qaeda and Taliban have been engaged in fierce fighting since August.


Pakistan kills 40 Taliban militants

October 13, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) – Troops and helicopter gunships killed about 40 Taliban militants while four people, including a politician, were injured in a roadside bomb in northwest Pakistan, officials said Monday.

Pakistani tanks take part in a military raid against Islamic ... 
Pakistani tanks take part in a military raid against Islamic militants in Darra Adam Khel. Troops and helicopter gunships killed about 40 Taliban militants while four people were injured in a roadside bomb in northwest Pakistan.(AFP/Tariq Mahmood)

More than 24 extremists with links to Al-Qaeda were killed on Sunday near the Afghan border in the Bajaur tribal region, where Pakistani security forces launched a major offensive against Islamic militants in August.

“Helicopter gunships and artillery pounded hideouts of militants, killing at least 24 rebels and wounding 10 others,” a security official told AFP.

Shelling began in the afternoon and continued into the early hours of Monday, he said, adding four militants and two locals were also killed in an exchange of fire between a tribal lashkar (force) and rebels in Bajaur.

The tribal force was formed last week to act against militants hiding in the area, who local tribesmen say are undermining their power structure.

The Pakistani military says more than 1,000 rebel fighters have been killed since it launched its offensive in Bajaur, including Al-Qaeda’s operational commander in the region, Egyptian Abu Saeed Al-Masri.

Pakistani tribesmen guard an army convoy in the troubled Bajaur ...
Pakistani tribesmen guard an army convoy in the troubled Bajaur agency in September 2008. Bajaur is the home to our friend Muhammad and he needs to check in with us…..Troops and helicopter gunships killed about 40 Taliban militants while four people were injured in a roadside bomb in northwest Pakistan.(AFP/File/Aamir Qureshi)

On Monday ten Islamic extremists died in a gunbattle with soldiers in the Khawazakhela district of the Swat valley during an ongoing military operation against fighters loyal to local cleric Maulana Fazlullah.

“Ten militants were killed in an operation by our security forces,” a military official told AFP, adding there were no casualties among troops.

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Pakistani troops patrol in the troubled Bajaur agency in September. ...

Muhammad Reports from Pakistan on Election Day

February 18, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I hope that you and your team at the Peace and Freedom will be alright. Situation in Pakistan and tribal areas remained normal during the election. Though there are some incidents of violence in parts of the country and tribal areas, but overall situation remained normal.

I think President Pervez Musharraf will be feeling some ease after the
completion of election process as there were reports of terrorist activities on the election day.

Terrorists have blown up election booth in Bajaur Agency, tribal area situated on Pak-Afghan border, but no one was hurt in the blast. It is regrettable to note that women in tribal areas and some parts of the country were not allowed to cast their votes. Women in Bajaur Agency have strongly protested over this move.

According to them, without their participation the election cannot be declared genuine.
Turnout as expected remained very low in whole country, but interestingly turnout in Bajaur Agency remained satisfactory. Media reports said that voting ended across the country for elections 2008 at 5:00 pm on Monday.

Large number of people exercised their right of vote countrywide. Fourteen people including UC Nazim and a woman have been killed and several wounded in firing and violence incidents during elections in different parts of the country.Generally, voting was concluded in a peaceful manner in most of the constituencies. Counting has begun at the end of polling and official result would be announced later.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the religious party which boycotted the polls said that it will not accept the results. The Jamaat always extended support to terrorists in Pakistan and tribal areas. Its central leader Liaquat Baloch has said that none would accept the government formed out of bogus results.

APDM staged its election boycott protest demonstration at the Muslim Town Mor here, which was attended by Liaquat Baloch and Farid Ahmad Paracha besides JI workers. He said that the low turnout has proved that the people have expressed their alienation from the elections and no one would accept the government formed out of bogus results. The demonstrators were carrying election boycott banners and placards.

Liaquat Baloch on this occasion said that the people have rejected the drama staged in the name of election.

According to a report, President Pervaiz Musharraf has said that his support will go to the side winning majority in the polls. Talking to media after casting vote at a polling station near the presidential camp office, the president said that the side winning in the center and provinces would form the government and fetch his support. Musharraf said that politics of accommodation and conciliation needs to be promoted rather than the politics of confrontation.

Dear Sir, I want to present my gratitude to your goodself for your kindness and love. I shall be sending reports about other developments.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,
Muhammad Khurshid

Pakistan: Can Osama Be Cornered?

December 18, 2007

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

First of all accept Merry Christmas from me, my wife, my children and all people of Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border. Consider this congratulation to citizens of the United States from the tribesmen.

I want to remind you we will be also be celebrating Eidul Azha on the 21st of this month and may be away from our normal post for a day or two — just as I expect you will celebrate Vietnamese Christmas wherever you find yourself!

We are going to celebrate both the Christmas and Eidul Azha in great fear and terror as after the statement of President Musharraf that Osama bin Laden could be in Bajaur Agency the people have been anticipating big operation in the areas.

Most of the tribesmen think that the operation should be targetted; if Osama is to be neutralized. Civilian casualities should be avoided at all cost.

Despite the President’s claim that the state of Emergency has made for the control of militancy and one of Pentagon’s top officials disclosure that the US is helping Pakistan’s security forces “perform” in the tribal areas, the menace has continued to rear its ugly head and the incidents of terrorism have not become rarer. Not only the facts on the ground do not seem to corroborate Pakistan’s claim but they also show no visible improvement in the situation as a result of Pentagon’s help.

On Saturday, a bomb blast killed five in Noshehra Cantonment and a day later nine sportsmen belonging to the army lost their lives in a suicide attack in Kohat and another serious incident occurred when local militants in Bajaur beheaded a security official. In Kurram Agency eight persons, including two of paramilitary corps, were abducted, a CD centre in Mardan became the target of a bomb attack with nine shops destroyed, a suicide bomber and two of his companions were arrested and bombs planted at three places recovered. At Parachinar, tribesmen fought among themselves causing deaths to three and a hostile cleric while six others were held. Thus, if anything, militancy appears to be on the rise.

Maj-General Richard Sherlock, according to a report in The Times of India, acknowledged Islamabad’s role in capturing certain high-profile Al-Qaeda operatives at great cost to its armed forces. However, he did not come out with any details of the USA working with the Pakistan government to meet the challenge. At the same time, he would not elaborate, when asked, what message Defence Secretary Gates was sending when he declared that the US might take unilateral action within Pakistan. Washington has to be told in explicit terms that any armed action on Pakistan’s soil would be deemed an act of aggression.

Dear Sir, Please remember us in the prayers on the eve of Christmas.

Again thank you very and merry Christmas and happy New Year.

Thank you very much,
Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid,
Khar, Bajaur Agency,
Tribal Areas Pakistan

Pakistan: Muhammad; Reports December 16, 2007

December 16, 2007

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom,
Dear Sir,

Today I want to congratulate you as your Peace and Freedom is far ahead of main stream media. The Peace and Freedom was the first, which give tip about the presence of Osama bin Laden in Bajaur Agency.

Now during an interview with Washington Post, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf has hinted at the possibility of Osama presence in Bajaur Agency. He said that Osama bin Laden could be in Bajaur — this is the tribal agency bordering Kunar province, where there were no coalition forces in the past. On the Afghan side — that’s in Afghanistan.

I have also some information about the presence of dreaded terrorists. Now pressure should be exert on Pakistan to flush out terrorists from Bajaur Agency.

Presently situation in the areas is very very critical as terrorists and Taliban have been fighting war against government forces. I do not why but officials from Pakistani administration have been giving time to terrorists to organise themselves. The other day I along with other people were fired at.

Luckily the bullets missed me narrowly.

If the Pakistani government is reluctant then the US should provide support to tribesmen, who have been becoming direct victims of terrorism.

I once again want to congratulate you.

Dear Sir, we the people of tribal areas will never forget your cooperation and kindness with us.

Again; Thank you very much,
Yours sincerely

Muhammad Khurshid,
Khar, Bajaur Agency,
Tribal Areas Pakistan

Report from Muhammad in Pakistan, December 15, 2007

December 15, 2007

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom,

Dear Sir,

I hope you will be alright. Situation in our areas have taken an ugly turn as Taliban announced their government. I do not know why, but Pakistan officials have still been keeping mum. They have not been taking action against the terrorists and Taliban. They have been terrorism the people. According to a report, Various Taliban groups active in the Tribal Areas and the NWFP claimed to have established a joint organisation, the Taliban Movement Pakistan, in South Waziristan with Baitullah Mehsud as its head, reported BBC Urdu.

The Taliban, the BBC said, had announced that no agreement would now be signed with the Pakistani government for any area and that their newly established organisation would take a joint decision in this regard.

Taliban commander from South Waziristan Baitullah Mehsud told BBC that a meeting of 20 Taliban representatives from all seven agencies in the Tribal Areas and NWFP was held on Friday in which the Taliban Movement of Pakistan was formed. He said the meeting also formed a 40-member consultative committee (shura) to be headed by him. Maulvi Umar has been chosen as spokesman for the committee, Mehsud added.

The United States has also not giving attention to the issue. The delay in taking action against Taliban and terrorists will further aggravate the situation.

Dear Sir, please pray for us as presently we have been passing through from a very very critical time.

Again thank you very much
Yours sincerely

Muhammad Khurshid,
Khar, Bajaur Ageny,
Tribal Areas Pakistan

Muhammad Reports from Pakistan, November 27

November 27, 2007

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I hope you and your team at the Peace and Freedom will be alright. Your colleague in Bajaur Agency also alright. Some strange events have been taking place in Pakistan, but on the other hand terrorists have also increased their activities. The other night my wife and children have spent spleesless night as the security forces and terrorists have exchaged firing for the whole night. Presently we have been living in war-like situation.

Reports from the surrounding areas stated that security forces used artillery and gunship helicopters on pro-Taliban militants in the troubled Swat valley, killing 40 militants, including two commanders, and losing four soldiers, said military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad.

He said another five soldiers had been injured in the operation. Arshad told Daily Times that the hilltops had been cleared, while security forces were now advancing towards areas where the militants had taken refuge. Swat Media Centre spokesman Amjad Iqbal said two local commanders were among those killed. Commander Khitab Khan was one of the commanders killed, it waslearnt. Iqbal said security forces had targeted the hideouts of militants loyal to rebel cleric Maulana Fazlullah throughout Sunday night.Meanwhile, a statement issued here said security forces destroyed eight vehicles and killed several militants during an operation. The militants’ convoy was destroyed on Bara Bandai-Shakardara Road. Separately, two security personnel were injured in a mortar attack on Kabal Golf Course.

Also on Monday, the local administration announced a four-hour relaxation in curfew from 8am till 12pm. The curfew had been in place since Saturday.

Dear Sir, please pray for us as at this critical juncture I need your prayers especially.

We will never forget your kindness and love for the poor people, who have been deprived from all their rights by the rulers.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas Pakistan

al-Qaeda, Taliban Continue Pakistan Campaign

August 19, 2007

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I am really grateful for your kind cooperation as the situation has been heading towards peace and freedom. Some time the terrorists make the strike.

But the killing of Shamsul Wahab, the scion of ruling family of Bajaur Agency, tribal has broken my heart. There was complete mourning in the agency as the people of Bajaur Agency have great love and affection for their princes.

No one knows, but this is the fact there was a time when Bajaur Agency was a small state ruled by the the family of the deceased family. Pakistan has brought the areas under its control in 1973 and abolished the state. The people have accepted Pakistan as they thought now Pakistan will provide education to their children.

But what the Pakistan did it had created Taliban and terrorists. The rulers of Pakistan have never given attention to the areas. Education remained the most neglected sector.

The terrorists and Taliban have been continuing the attacks for creating terror in the areas.

According to reports, a bomb explosion partially damaged a levies check-post in the Mamond tehsil of the Bajaur Agency late Friday, prompting the authorities to arrest 18 people under Section 40 of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).

Sources said that unidentified people targeted the Balod levies check-post with a time device which went off with a bang, damaging the post partly but causing no loss to human life.

They said the political authorities moved swiftly to arrest 18 local people under Section 40 of the FCR in this connection.

Meanwhile, the bomb disposal squad defused a second time device on a tip off and stepped security in the region.

Another report from Waziristan stated that a suicide bomber killed two soldiers Saturday and two others died in a fierce clash with militants in Waziristan, officials said.

The suicide attack occurred at the Dharkhubi checkpost near the town of Mir Ali, the main town of volatile North Waziristan tribal agency, a security official said.

“Two paramilitary soldiers were killed and two others were seriously hurt in the suicide bombing,” the official said.

Two other paramilitary soldiers were killed when militants attacked Isha and Qamar checkposts in North Waziristan, a security official said.

Both sides traded intense rocket and mortar fire for two hours, he added.

Gunmen also killed one policeman Saturday when they lobbed a hand grenade at a police checkpost in the northwestern town of Bannu, senior police official Dar Ali Khattak said. The attack injured five other officers and the culprits fled on motorcycles, he said.

A suicide bomber also blew himself to pieces in Bannu after being cornered by police, injuring one policeman and a civilian, Khattak said.

Saturday’s violence came on the heels of other clashes in North Waziristan, where the Pakistani army is hunting pro-Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants who fled Afghanistan after a US-led invasion in late 2001.

Clashes between security forces and militants have been reported daily from the lawless district since the breakdown in July of a peace deal signed by the authorities and pro-Taliban groups in September last year.

Earlier, a soldier was injured in a firefight with suspected militants, officials said. The soldier was hurt when militants clashed with security forces near the Christian cemetery in Miranshah. Separately, militants fired up to 20 rockets before dawn at the Banda checkpost outside Miranshah, but there were no reports of casualties from the incident, an official said.

In neighbouring South Waziristan, a tribal “jirga,” set off to negotiate the release of 15 paramilitary soldiers taken hostage by militants last week, senior local government official Hussain Zada said.

“We hope the jirga will be able to secure release of the kidnapped soldiers and help bring peace to the area,” he said of the meeting due to take place in the town of Spinkai Raghzai.

The suspected militants from the dominant Mehsud tribe last week beheaded one of 16 kidnapped soldiers and threatened to kill more unless the authorities release 10 of their men. Te army said Friday that 15 militants were killed and a dozen others injured in clashes on Thursday which erupted after militants tried to ambush a security forces convoy on the Jandola road.

Seven soldiers also died.

The Waziristan tribal belt has been the scene recently of escalated military operations against suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda cells believed to be planning attacks from there within Pakistan, in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world.

Dear Sir, I shall repeat my appeal to the US government to exert more pressure Pakistan to control terrorism. At least they should be asked not support these terrorists. Stop funding to these terrorists and Taliban.

Once again thank you very much.

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,
Tribal Areas Pakistan