SOUTH ASIA: PAKISTAN News Briefs
Approximately 30,000 troops, assisted by military jets and helicopter gunships, have been deployed in the TTP stronghold and have moved in from three sides – "from Razmak in North Waziristan towards Makeen in South Waziristan, from Wana and Shakai towards Serwakai tehsil [revenue unit] on the way to Kaniguram, and from Jandola to Spinkai Raghzai, Kotki and Sararogha." On November 3, the Pakistan Army took control of Sararogha, the stronghold of the Hakeemullah Mehsud-led TTP. The capture of Sararogha adds to the significance of securing Kotkai, the home town of TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud and his trainer of suicide bombers, Qari Hussain, on October 24. Adding to its significance, Sararogha was where the TTP Shura (executive council) met to deliberate strategy. The political administration has claimed that Army troops were in control of major parts of Sararogha and Ladha, while they were moving to consolidate positions in Makeen town, described as the nerve centre of the Taliban in South Waziristan. The rapid pace with which the military has claimed capture of major towns and villages, including Sherwangi, Kotkai, Kaniguram and Sararogha, and locations such as Tarkona Narai, have fuelled much doubt and skepticism.
The truth is likely far from the spin Islamabad is sending out to the world. Local and official sources, The News reported on November 8, 2009, remarked that there was little or no resistance from the militants, as all the armed men had left the area well in advance, since the campaign had been well advertised before its commencement. At worst, there was some fighting in a few places. Crucially, not a single important TTP ‘commander’ or foreign militant has been killed or arrested, since the launch of operations on October 17. The death toll of militants claimed by the ISPR in its daily statements is pushing 500, but the bodies of the slain men haven’t been shown to the media, The News added. Irfan Burki and Daud Khattak have reported that the whereabouts of TTP leaders, including Hakeemullah Mehsud, Qari Hussain and Waliur Rahman aren’t known, and it is believed they have escaped to some new hideouts. Sources suggest that Waliur Rahman, in his capacity as the head of the TTP South Waziristan chapter, is still holed up somewhere in the Mehsud tribal territory. As in Swat, "where Taliban head Maulana Fazlullah is still untraceable, the situation has taken a familiar turn in South Waziristan as all the top commanders fled."
Current counter-insurgency operations in South Waziristan are, consequently, unlikely to yield desired results, given the experience in the FATA in the past and in Swat earlier in 2009, and can be expected only to disperse the militants into other areas across Pakistan. The neutralisation of the Taliban-al Qaeda combine is, moreover, far from being a desired objective of these operations. In fact, never has any militant group, be it the sectarian variant, the ones being used by Pakistan in its proxy war against India, or others like the Taliban and al Qaeda allies, been neutralized by the state.
Momentarily, these operations could relieve some pressure on adjacent geographical locations. For instance, there is, according to figures for October 2009, less pressure in the Bannu District of NWFP, located next to Sararogha. The eventual success of the operation in South Waziristan would also depend on the state’s capacity to prevent any further expansion of the conflict, especially the augmenting attacks in urban areas. For Operation Rah-e-Nijat to be strategically meaningful, the military will have to engage with the TTP and al Qaeda allies not only in South Waziristan but also in North Waziristan, the Khyber, Kurram, Orakzai, Bajaur and Mohmand Agencies, and elsewhere in FATA. In addition, Pakistan’s Armed Forces will have to fight the fleeing militants in the adjoining Swat Valley and Malakand Division of the NWFP, which is still to stabilize, despite the largely disastrous military operations in that region earlier in the year. The effectiveness of military operations in South Waziristan will be negligible if the Army allows the TTP cadre to disperse across Pakistan or flee across the Durand Line, to regroup on Afghan territory. All of this implies a commitment and concentration of troops that the Federal Government simply cannot currently secure, given the multiple insurgencies raging across the country.
While the operations in South Waziristan have already led to more than 500 fatalities, the whole of FATA continues to remain a conflict zone with augmenting casualties. 4,185 persons, including 3,318 militants and 582 civilians, have died so far in 2009 (till November 7), a substantial increase over the fatality figure for the whole of 2008, which stood at 3,067. The writ of the state, always fragile in FATA, has now vanished. Levels of violence have, in fact, risen continuously over the years.
Annual Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in FATA, 2005- 2009
Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal
* Data till November 7, 2009
Fatalities are bound to be much higher than the numbers available, and the categories are certainly suspect, since independent and open source reportage from FATA operates under severe restrictions.
The intensive strafing and limited ground operations that comprise Operation Rah-e-Nijat have, of course, led to some setbacks for the Taliban. The TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud has, however, urged his cadres to endure the military onslaught, warning them in an intercepted message obtained on November 5 that "cowards will go to hell". "Remember this is the commandment of God that once fighting starts with the enemy, you cannot leave the battlefield without permission from your commander, and don’t look for excuses to run away from the fighting," Hakeemullah told his fighters in a speech on November 3, broadcast over a wireless radio network. Of those, who do run away, he warned, "Such people will go to hell… We are in Jihad and we should not pay heed to the whispers of Satan. We should sacrifice our lives for Islam so that we can feel pride on the Day of Judgment."
There are obvious indications that the lack of resistance by the Taliban is tactical. TTP spokesman Azam Tariq declared, on November 3, "We are prepared for a long war. The areas we are withdrawing from, and the ones the Army is claiming to have won, are being vacated by us as part of a strategy. The strategy is to lure the army into a trap, and then fight a long war."
Rather than countering the troops, TTP cadres have withdrawn into safe havens in the mountainous terrain and the urban expanse. Sources indicate that key TTP leaders have re-located to other areas in FATA, to Balochistan, to Karachi, to south Punjab and other locations across Pakistan, where there is currently less pressure from the security agencies. Officials at the Army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi are reportedly surprised that the militants left the area so easily. The Army is, of course, aware that the fleeing militants are retreating to other locations, including the neighbouring Orakzai, Kurram, Khyber and North Waziristan agencies, to survive, regroup and prepare future attacks.
While the military establishment and Interior Ministry had been hyping the military operations in South Waziristan months before their actual launch, entirely neutralizing any element of surprise, two factors may have eventually forced GHQ to finally hit out. The recent surge of terrorist violence in urban areas, including the attack on GHQ itself, at Rawalpindi, as well as on state installations in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Kohat, which killed more than 200 people, force the Army’s hand to launch an offensive in South Waziristan. In addition, the approaching winter also "prompted the military to begin the onslaught and try to finish it or achieve most of its objectives before the snow starts falling in the mountains of Makeen, Ladha, Kaniguram, Badar, Srarogha, Kotki and other militant strongholds."
The military action has, so far, only targeted the parts of South Waziristan which are dominated by the Mehsud tribe. A report from Dera Ismail Khan on October 20 noted that the Pakistan Army had struck deals to keep two powerful tribal chiefs — Mulla Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur — from joining the battle against the Government. Under the terms agreed upon about three weeks earlier, Mulla Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur will stay out of the current fight in parts of South Waziristan and will also allow the Army to "move through their own lands unimpeded, giving the military additional fronts from which to attack the Taliban. In exchange, the Army will ease patrols and bombings in the lands controlled by the two warlords, two Pakistani intelligence officials based in the region said."
The battle for South Waziristan and, if possible, to clear the area of the Taliban-al Qaeda presence, is going to be long and certainly a lot more difficult and complicated than the military campaign in Swat. Past attempts to establish Islamabad’s writ in the region have proven disastrous. For the record, there have been three failed military operations against the Taliban in the region between 2005 to 2008. On at least one occasion, the military’s failure to defeat the then Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud resulted in the capture of around 300 soldiers by the Taliban, and forced the Government and the military to make peace deals with him in February 2005.
Much is at stake for Pakistan in the fight against the TTP, but there is nothing about Islamabad’s strategy and, more importantly, intent, that allows for even a modicum of optimism.
[South Asia Intelligent Review]
139 militants and 13 civilians killed during the week in FATA: The Security Forces (SFs) killed four militants during a search operation in the Bara town of Khyber Agency on November 29, 2009. "Four militants were killed and several others were wounded in search operations in different parts of Bara," a senior military official told AFP. On the same day, four more militants were killed in Wana, the capital of South Waziristan Agency. "Troops retaliated after militants fired rockets at their camp in Wana. Four militants were killed and two were arrested," a local military spokesman said.
Troops killed 15 Taliban militants in the ongoing Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan, said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on November 27. "Security forces cleared Narakai after ... a clash ... 15 Taliban were killed and one soldier injured," said the ISPR in a statement, adding that troops cleared Sarwekai-Siplatoi Road in the same area, defusing 10 Improvised Explosive Devices planted along the road. Further, a Frontier Corps (FC) statement said troops backed by helicopter gun ships killed 15 Taliban militants in the Khyber Agency. The Army and the FC mounted the operation in Khyber three days ago to crack down on militants, some of whom have attacked convoys supplying foreign troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Military spokesman Major Fazlur Rehman told AFP that three helicopter gun ships neutralized Taliban positions. Separately, a key anti-Taliban leader was killed in a bomb attack at Mamoond tehsil (revenue unit) in Bajaur Agency on November 27. According to local sources, three Taliban militants were injured in the bomb blast.
18 Taliban militants were killed and 14 others injured when fighter jets and helicopter gunships targeted Taliban positions in Orakzai Agency on November 26. Seven Taliban hideouts were also destroyed in the raids. Eight Taliban militants were killed when fighter jets and helicopter gunships bombed the Chapri Ferozkhel area of Lower Orakzai, while 10 Taliban militants were killed in air strikes that targeted Dabori, Alf Khel and Toorsimt areas of Upper Orakzai.
Seven militants were killed and 10 others arrested as the SFs continued their operations in the Shahukhel area of the Orakzai Agency on November 25. Tribal sources said the SFs targeted the hideouts of militants in the Shahukhel area, killing at least seven militants and arresting 10 others.
Separately, the SFs claimed to have killed three militants and injured eight others in the ongoing Operation Rah-e-Nijat in the South Waziristan Agency on November 25. Official sources said the SFs and militants clashed in an area between Asman Manza Nand in the Ladha sub-division, leaving three militants dead and eight others injured. Further, two women were killed and an equal number of them were wounded when an artillery shell landed in a house in the Storikhel area of Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency on November 25. Local sources said three children from the same family were also injured in the incident.
SFs killed at least 23 militants during an operation in the Bara tehsil (revenue unit) of the Khyber Agency on November 24. The SFs were backed by helicopters, tanks, armoured personnel carriers and heavy artillery. A press release issued by the Frontier Corps (FC) media cell in Jamrud said that during the day-long operation, codenamed Khwakh Ba De Sham at least 23 militants were killed and 36 suspects arrested. 12 explosives-laden vehicles were destroyed and a huge quantity of arms and ammunitions seized in different localities of Bara. Separately, tribal and official sources said helicopter gunships pounded the hideouts and compounds of militants in the Daburi, Ghiljo, Khadizai, Mamozai, Tor Smat, Akhunkot, Mazid Ghari, Saiful Darra, Machiney Killay, Arghanjo and Ghundi Killay areas of Orakzai Agency, killing 19 militants and injuring 13 others on November 24. Further, four militants were killed and several others sustained injuries in clashes with the SFs in the Khar sub-division of Bajaur Agency on November 24. Three members of a family, including two children, and a prisoner were killed and four others injured when rockets hit a house in Maminzo area and Bajaur Scouts headquarters in Khar sub-division early in the day.
The SFs claimed to have killed 17 militants in the Shahukhel area of Orakzai Agency on November 23. Official sources said gunship helicopters targeted the hideouts and compounds of the militants in the Shahukhel area. Ground forces also used heavy artillery and took control of the area. The sources said during the shelling, the SFs killed 17 militants and injured eight others. The gunship helicopters also targeted militant hideouts in Lal Garhi, Teri Killay, Kasha and Shaker Tangi. Separately, nine more Taliban militants have been killed in the ongoing Operation Rah-e-Nijat in the South Waziristan Agency on November 23. The SFs Security Forces cleared Golden Top west of Pash Ziarat in Tabai Sar following "intense clashes" with Taliban, and consolidated their positions around Lakhi Ghund and the Bunker ridge. Six people were killed when a shell landed in a civilian area during an exchange of fire between the militants and SFs at Gagra check-post in the Khyber Agency on November 23. In addition, 19 persons, including seven soldiers, sustained injuries in the clash. Further, the SFs and volunteers of the Khwezai Peace Committee killed a militant and arrested a ‘commander’ and demolished the houses of three other militants in the Spinki Tangi area in the Baizai sub-division of Mohmand Agency on November 23. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, November 24-30, 2009.
17 militants killed during the week in NWFP: The Security Forces (SFs) on November 25, 2009 killed three militants in the Swat District. According to an Inter-Services Public Relations statement, "Security forces carried out a search operation at Bar Kandao and killed three terrorists."
Helicopter gunships targeted the hideouts of militants in the Shahukhel and Tora Warai areas of Hangu District on November 24, killing 11 militants and destroying three of their hideouts. Sources said the action was taken after a group of militants fired rockets at the SFs in Shahukhel and Tora Warai areas, injuring a soldier. Soon after the incident, the SFs launched an offensive against the militants, hitting their hideouts. In addition, three militants were killed and an equal number of them were arrested in two separate incidents in the Swat District on November 24. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, November 24-30, 2009.
Five Army officers arrested for links to Chicago suspects: Five Pakistani Army officers have been detained for questioning over possible links to the two US terror suspects of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), who are accused of plotting an armed attack on a Danish newspaper, intelligence officials said on November 24, 2009. LeT militants David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana were arrested in Chicago during October 2009. US prosecutors said the two men were believed to be working with an unidentified senior member of the outfit and a senior Al Qaeda operative. Two Pakistani intelligence officials said phone records showed the five Pakistani officers had contacted Headley and Rana. They say the five include a retired brigadier general and two active lieutenant colonels, but did not provide more details. Daily Times, November 25, 2009.
Government tables Balochistan package in parliament: The Federal Government on November 24, 2009 unfolded a five-tier multi-dimensional special package for the Balochistan province - combining political, administrative and economic initiatives - in a joint sitting of parliament. The package, named Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan, was presented by the Pakistan People’s Party Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, who heads the seven-member parliamentary committee, which finalised the package in consultation with the political leadership in parliament and other stakeholders. The five-tier package - constitutional, political, administrative, economic and monitoring mechanism - envisages the withdrawal of the Army from Sui that would be replaced with the Frontier Corps, a fact-finding commission, headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court/high court, to probe into the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti, inquiry by the superior judiciary into the murder of Baloch political workers, including Ghulam Muhammad, Lala Munir and Munir Ahmed, and target killings in the province. The package also included the release of all political workers and withdrawal of cases against those who have no charges, while the missing persons with charges would be brought before a court of competent jurisdiction for trial within seven days. Such missing persons would be allowed legal counsel of their choice and the Government would assist them in this regard. Family members of such persons be informed accordingly and allowed visiting rights.
Presenting the details of the package, Senator Raza Rabbani said necessary constitutional amendments would be made to strengthen the provincial autonomy as demanded by smaller provinces, especially Balochistan. The constitutional reforms related matters include abolition of the Concurrent List, end to the Police Order and the Balochistan Local Government Ordinance 2001 from the 6th Schedule and effective implementation of the Article 153 relating to the Council of Common Interest. The package assures effective implementation of articles 154 to 159 and 170 of the Constitution. The unanimously passed resolutions of the Balochistan Assembly from 2002 till date related to the province would be implemented within the legal framework of the Constitution.
On the economic side, the package envisages that the federal government will pay royalty worth PKR 120 billion on the Gas Development Surcharge from 1954 to 1991, to be payable over 12 years. Rabbani said the restructuring of the National Finance Commission award criteria was already underway and the criteria of inverse population, poverty and resource generation need to be taken into consideration.
About political matters, the Senator said the Federal Government, in consultation with the provincial Government, would release all political workers except those involved in heinous crimes. A dialogue would be initiated with all major stakeholders in the political spectrum of the province to bring them into the mainstream, he said. He added that the exiled leaders, who want to return to Pakistan, would be facilitated except those who were involved in acts of terrorism. Referring to the administrative measures, Rabbani said the Federal Government should immediately review the role of federal agencies in the province and stop all such operations that were not related to war against terrorism. Rabbani said a commission, headed by a sitting member of the superior judiciary from Balochistan, would be constituted in respect of the missing persons. The names of the missing persons would be identified and if found to be in custody without any charges they would be released, he said. In view of the decision of the provincial Government, he said the policy of conversion of ‘B’ areas into ‘A’ areas would be reviewed from time to time. The News, November 25, 2009.
140 militants and 13 soldiers among 160 persons killed during the week in FATA: 17 militants, including two ‘commanders’ and two foreigners, were killed and eight others injured in bombing by fighter planes and clashes between the Security Forces (SFs) and militants in different areas of the Bajaur Agency on November 22. Further, the SFs on November 22 claimed to have killed 13 militants and conceded one casualty and injuries to five soldiers during an encounter in the Shahukhel area of Orakzai Agency. Separately, five militants were killed and nine others sustained injuries in the ongoing Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan Agency on November 22.
SFs killed 14 Taliban militants during the Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan Agency, even as six soldiers, including an officer, were also killed and four others injured on November 21. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the SFs secured Lakki Ghundi after an intense battle with the Taliban. "During the operation, 14 terrorists were killed, while six soldiers, including an officer embraced martyrdom and four were injured," it said. SFs cleared Gandil Wala area near Jandola and launched a search operation in Sarwekai and Paya near Tiarza. Troops also secured Manna, Tut Kasko Khula and Kandao Sar west of Razmak and secured Laghar Narai as well. Separately, 11 suspected militants, a majority of foreigners among them, were killed and seven others injured when jets bombed militant hideouts and an Afghan refugee camp in Orakzai Agency on November 21.
19 militants were killed in clashes with the SFs in the South Waziristan Agency, Khyber Agency and Bajaur Agency on November 20. Tribal and officials sources said five militants were killed and nine persons, including a soldier, sustained injuries during an exchange of fire in the Asman Manza area in the Ladha sub-division of South Waziristan. The clash, which continued for an hour, erupted when the militants attacked a military camp. SFs and militants also clashed in the Maidan area in Ladha but there was no word on casualties. In the Khyber Agency, eight militants were killed in a clash with the SFs in the Gandao area. Official sources said the militants attacked a security check-post in Gandao with heavy arms, prompting the troops to retaliate. The exchange of gunfire continued for two hours in which eight militants were killed. Further, a member of the bomb disposal unit was killed in a roadside explosion in Bara sub-division. SFs also targeted the hideouts of militants at Charmang in Nawagai and Hazar town in the Mamond sub-division of Bajaur Agency with artillery shells and mortar guns, killing six militants and injuring four others.
A US drone strike on a compound in North Waziristan Agency killed eight Taliban militants on November 20. Two militants were also injured in the attack on the building located in Michi Khel village of Mir Ali revenue-division, 18 kilometres east of agency the headquarters Miranshah. The Associated Press reported that the targeted compound was owned by two brothers and the Taliban militants frequently visited the building.
13 militants and a paramilitary soldier were killed and several other people injured in air raids and clashes in various parts of the Bajaur Agency on November 19. Fighter planes and helicopter gunships are reported to have targeted militant hideouts in the Speray, Gatki and Sewai areas of Mamond sub-division. Two relatives of a militant leader, Maulvi Muneer, were killed when a shell hit his house in Sewai. One mortar shell hit the house of militant leader Fam Jan in Kamangara area of Nawagai sub-division, killing him, his wife and two sons. In addition, four militants were killed and five others injured in a clash with the SFs in the Charmang area of Nawagai sub-division. The clash erupted when militants attacked a security post in Bar Cheenar area with heavy weapons. The fighting, which continued for over an hour, also left one paramilitary soldier, Sarwar Khan, dead and six others injured. Separately, the militants killed a Frontier Corps trooper and his father in a failed kidnap bid at Darra Ghari in the Orakzai Agency on November 19.
The SFs are reported to have killed seven Taliban militants in the Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan Agency on November 19. The SFs "engaged and cleared a Taliban [hideout] ...near Kikrai" on the Jandola-Sararogha front, said an ISPR statement. "During the clash, seven Taliban were killed," said the ISPR, adding that troops also consolidated their positions around Tor Wam, and seized a huge cache of arms and ammunition.
Six civilians and 12 militants were killed, while 23 people sustained injuries as jetfighters shelled various parts of the Orakzai Agency on November 18. Tribal and official sources said the jet fighters targeted the hideouts and compounds of the militants in Ghiljo, Mishti Bazaar, Mazidgarhi and Tor Kanray, killing 12 militants and injuring 17 others. Eight hideouts and four vehicles were also destroyed in the attack. The sources said that some of the shells missed the targets and hit houses in Shahukhel area, killing three women, two minors and a man while injuring six others. In addition, heavy artillery shelling by the SFs in Kurram Agency killed five militants on November 18 while four militants were killed when fighter jets targeted their positions in Bajaur Agency. Separately, the SFs on November 18 claimed killing six militants in South Waziristan Agency. A statement of the ISPR said six militants were killed when they opened small arms fire on the SFs in the Kund Mela area on the Shakai-Kaniguram Road. Five soldiers, including an officer, sustained injuries in the attack. In retaliatory fire, six militants were killed.
Four militants were killed and five others injured in a US drone missile strike in the Shanakhora village of North Waziristan on November 18. "It was a US drone attack which targeted a militant compound killing four militants and wounding five others," a senior security official in the area told AFP. He said two missiles were fired from a US drone. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, November 17-23, 2009.
27 civilians and 20 militants among 54 persons killed during the week in NWFP: Five militants, including a foreigner, were killed when the SFs targeted the militant hideouts in Speen Thall area of Thall sub-division in the Hangu District on November 20. An Afghan militant was among the dead.
20 people – including three Policemen – were killed and 50 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the main gate of the Judicial Complex on Khyber Road in Peshawar, the NWFP capital, on November 19. This was the sixth suicide attack in 11 days in the provincial capital. The bomber reportedly struck at around 10:20am at the main gate of the complex, which houses district lower courts and is close to the Peshawar High Court, Civil Secretariat, the NWFP Assembly Flag Staff House and other Government offices and installations. The Cantonment Superintendent of Police, Nisar Marwat, told Daily Times that around eight-to-10 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack. In another incident in Peshawar, two Policemen were killed and five persons sustained injuries in a bomb blast that targeted a Police vehicle on the outskirts of the city early on November 19. "It was a remote-controlled bomb packed with steel pellets, which was planted on the roadside," a senior Police official said. Separately, two militants were killed in an encounter with the Police in the Bezoo Kot area of Hangu District on November 19.
Six bodies of suspected militants were found dumped in various areas of Swat Valley on November 18. Those whose bodies were found also included a close aide to the slain deputy leader of the Swat Taliban Maulana Shah Dauran. The corpse of Ihsanullah was found dumped in the fields in Kokarai locality of Mingora. The body of another militant, identified as Shamakhel, was recovered from a roadside in Charbagh. Local sources said four bodies of suspected militants were found in the Gorra area situated on the border with Dir District. Separately, two women, three children and two men were killed when military planes accidentally bombed some houses in the Hangu District on November 18. In the course of an attack on a seminary, the planes are reported to have accidentally dropped some bombs on adjacent shops and some houses in the Shahu Khel area of Hangu. Besides the women and children, two labourers were also killed in the attack.
Three persons were killed and more than 30 others sustained injuries in a suicide car bombing which targeted the Badaber Police Station on the Kohat Road near Peshawar on November 16. The powerful blast razed to the ground a mosque, a large portion of the Police Station and three nearby buildings. It also injured some horses in the nearby horse stand and damaged several vehicles in the vicinity. Eyewitnesses said Constable Umer Rahman of the Frontier Constabulary opened fire as he became suspicious about a fast-approaching vehicle near the Badaber Police Station around 7:40am. "When the brave constable opened fire, the explosives stuffed in the vehicle exploded. The soldier also suffered injuries but he is safe and sound," Frontier Constabulary Commandant Zafarullah Khan told The News. Officials of the bomb disposal squad estimated that around 250 kilograms of explosives had been stuffed in the vehicle. This was the fifth incident of its kind in and outside Peshawar during the last eight days.
The SFs claimed to have killed four militants near Gulibagh in the Swat District while the body of a militant ‘commander’ was found dumped in the Sambat area of Matta sub-division on November 16. The ISPR said the troops conducted a search operation in Roria near the Gulibagh area of Charbagh. It said the SFs confronted the militants during the action and killed four of them. Sources said the bullet-riddled body of Ahmad Jan alias Tor Lala was found dumped on a roadside in Sambat after unidentified men killed him. Ahmad Jan was among the ‘commanders’ of the Swat militants wanted by the SFs in numerous acts of terror in the area, the sources said. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, November 17-23, 2009.
133 militants and 36 soldiers among 170 persons killed during the week in FATA: 18 militants were killed as fighter jets targeted Taliban hideouts in the Orakzai Agency, a private TV channel reported on November 15. The bombings also destroyed 10 Taliban hideouts in the Ghaljo, Dabori and Mamozai areas of upper Orakzai Agency. Separately, five militants were killed in the ongoing Operation Rah-e-Nijat in the South Waziristan Agency on November 15. The Security Forces (SFs) claimed killing five militants in Ahmadwam village on the Jandola-Sararogha Road. In addition, the SFs on November 15 launched a counter-offensive after the militants attacked checkpoints in various areas of Khar subdivision and killed a tribesman in the Mamond sub-division of Bajaur Agency.
The SFs killed seven Taliban militants during Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on November 14. It said the SFs cleared the area around Madike, located two kilometres northeast of Ahmed Wam, and also secured an important height, Point 1663, at Parmonkai Roghzai. Separately, seven militants were killed and a Taliban ammunition depot destroyed as fighter jets pounded suspected Taliban hideouts in the Orakzai Agency on November 14.
Six militants and two soldiers were killed in South Waziristan Agency, an ISPR press release said on November 13. Two soldiers were killed and an equal number were wounded during an encounter with the militants at Ahmed Wam. In addition, one militant was killed and several others sustained injuries when Pakistan Air Force fighters bombarded suspected hideouts of the militants in Kurram Agency on November 13. Militants fleeing the operation in South Waziristan Agency had reportedly been hiding in the Kurram and Orakzai Agency.
17 soldiers were killed in stiff resistance to Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan Agency by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on November 12. This is the highest death toll for the military since operations were launched on October 17, security officials said. At least 15 soldiers were killed in clashes while a roadside bomb blast killed two soldiers in the Sararogha area further east. The ISPR earlier said that five soldiers and 22 militants were killed in the last 24 hours of the offensive. But the Army and security officials in the area told AFP that the military death toll was 17. An unnamed official also said the clashes included face-to-face fighting.
A landmine blast and ambush killed 10 SF personnel in the Mohmand Agency on November 11. "Eight soldiers were martyred and two were wounded when their vehicle hit a landmine buried on the roadside… The soldiers were on a routine patrol. The landmine was buried by the militants. The explosion damaged the pick-up," Frontier Corps spokesman Major Fazalur Rehman said. In addition, two paramilitary personnel were killed and eight others reported missing after Taliban militants attacked their convoy at Ghanam Shah. Two bodies were recovered after the ambush and 10 militants killed after attack helicopters shelled suspected Taliban hideouts in the Bai Zai area. Separately, seven Taliban militants were killed and two soldiers wounded in the Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan Agency, an ISPR statement said on November 11. "An intense gunbattle took place at the recently-established checkpost at Fort Knoll, where seven terrorists were killed and two soldiers, including an officer injured," it said. In addition, five suspected militants were killed when helicopter gunships targeted the hideouts of Taliban in the mountainous area of lower Orakzai Agency on November 11. Officials said that at least six camps and hideouts of the Taliban were completely destroyed in the air strike in Sultanzai area in the evening. Security Forces on November 11 also killed three militants and seized a huge quantity of arms and ammunition in the Bara sub-division of Khyber Agency. Two militants were killed in an encounter with the SFs in the Mamond sub-division while four personnel of the Bajaur Levies sustained injuries in a remote controlled bomb blast in the Nawagai sub-division of Bajaur Agency on November 11.
The Army on November 10 claimed killing nine more militants to raise the Taliban death tally to 492 since the launch of the Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan Agency on October 17. Among the nine slain militants, the Army said five were killed in the north of Ladha and four others were killed in the Tauda Cheena and Fort Knoll areas of Makeen. Separately, five militants were killed and seven injured on November 10 when fighter jets bombed Taliban hideouts in Ghalju, Khawga Rehri and other parts Orakzai Agency. In addition, five militants were killed in an exchange of fire with the SFs after attacks on the base camp of the Frontier Crops and check-posts in the Bajaur Agency on November 10.
The SFs fully secured the Shakai-Ladha road and started patrolling the Kaniguram-Ladha axis as eight militants and four soldiers died in clashes in South Waziristan on the 24th day of Operation Rah-e-Nijat on November 9. A local source said four soldiers died in a roadside bomb blast in the Makeen area. However, the Army said militants fired several rockets at a security post in the Makeen area, killing four soldiers and injuring another. Eight militants were also killed in retaliatory action by the troops, said an ISPR statement. Separately, eight suspected militants were killed and several others injured as military planes targeted their positions in the Kurram Agency on November 9. According to sources, the areas which came under the air attack included Chinarak, Spairkot and Ormigai in the east of Parachinar. A vehicle carrying militants was hit in Khwaidatkhel, leaving eight occupants dead. In addition, three SF personnel and two militants were killed and a soldier sustained injuries in a bomb blast and firing incidents in different areas of Bajaur Agency on November 9. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, November 10-16, 2009.
59 civilians, 21 soldiers and 45 militants killed during the week in NWFP: 12 militants were killed in clashes with the Security Forces (SFs) in Karakar and Shamozai Gharai while 14 bodies were found dumped in Charbagh’s Gulibagh area in the Swat Valley on November 15, 2009. It was the second consecutive day that clashes between the SFs and militants were reported from Swat District. Eight casualties of militants were reported from Charbagh on November 14 when the SFs claimed killing them in a clash during a search operation in the Ashar Banr and Nala areas. The bodies dumped in Gulibagh were stated to be of militants. Separately, volunteers of the Lashkar (militia) shot dead three veil-clad men near the residence of an anti-Taliban Nazim in Bazidkhel village of Peshawar District on November 15.
15 persons, including a Policeman and a three-year-old child, were killed and 35 others injured when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle at a Police check-post in Peshawar, the NWFP capital, Police and hospital staff said on November 15.
Troops killed 13 Taliban militants in two separate clashes in the Swat District, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on November 14. Five militants were killed after a group of militants ambushed a military convoy near Totakan village, while, eight more militants were killed during a search operation in a forest near Mangaltan village.
13 people – 10 military personnel and three civilians – were killed and 60 injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of the regional headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Peshawar on November 13. An Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said the bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a military check-post on Artillery Road at 6:45am (PST), killing 10 military personnel and three civilians, and injuring 60. The NWFP Inspector General of Police, Malik Naveed, said the vehicle was loaded with around 200 kilograms of explosives. NWFP Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain told the media that nine ISI officials were killed, while three were missing. Hussain also said that surrounding walls and an entire block of the agency headquarters were completely destroyed, while six blocks had been partially damaged. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack.
Ten persons, including nine security officials, were killed and 22 injured in a suicide attack at a Police Station in the Bannu town of Bannu District on November 13. A Police official said that a suicide attacker rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into the Bakkakhel Police Station on Miranshah Road – killing seven Security Force personnel, two Frontier Corps troops and a pedestrian. He also said that 22 people, including 19 Policemen, were also injured in the suicide attack. The station is close to the border with North Waziristan. The bomber reportedly struck 25 minutes after the suicide attack on the ISI building in provincial capital Peshawar.
The SFs in a fresh offensive in the Elum Ghar area of Buner District killed two local militant ‘commanders’ among four persons on November 13. Sources said militant ‘commanders’ Asmatullah and Habibur Rehman of the Pir Baba area were killed in an encounter with the SFs in Elum Ghar. Habibur Rehman’s wife and a child were also killed in the clash.
Two persons were killed and six others were wounded in separate bomb and hand grenade explosions at Gul Bagh and Wuch Bazaar in the Hangu town of Hangu District in the early hours of November 12. Separately, Syed Abul Hassan Jaffry, media manager of the Iranian consulate in Peshawar, was shot dead near his home in Gulbarg on November 12-morning. Jaffry was going to his office when he was shot at point-blank range as he turned his car towards the Swati Phatak.
34 persons were killed and nearly 100 others sustained injuries in a powerful car bomb blast at a crowded intersection in the Charsadda bazaar of Charsadda District on November 10. Scores of women and children are reported to have died and dozens of shops and vehicles were damaged in the suspected suicide attack. District Police chief Riaz Khan said the explosives were packed in a car parked near the Farooq-i-Azam chowk. He said Police suspected that it was a suicide attack because limbs and shoes of the suspected bomber had been found. Shopkeepers and vendors were preparing to put down the shutters and a large number of people were waiting at a taxi stand when the explosion took place. Seven children and three women were among the dead, Police said.
Three persons, including a Policeman, were killed and five others sustained injuries when a suicide bomber riding an auto-rickshaw blew himself up at a Police barricade on the Ring Road in the Latifabad area of Peshawar on November 9. An eyewitness, Attaullah, told reporters that Policemen deployed at a barricade near a canal signalled an auto-rickshaw to stop around 10:00 am (PST). "A man in his early 20s, having a trimmed beard and wearing brown clothes, came out of the three-wheeler and detonated explosives strapped around his vest," he recalled. Another eyewitness, Sher Afzal, said he saw two people going towards the barricade in a rickshaw a few moments before the blast. Investigators said five to six kilograms of explosives were used in the incident. This was the second suicide bombing in Peshawar during the last 24 hours. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, November 10-16, 2009.
ISI used CIA money to build new Islamabad headquarters: The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the USA has funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) since the 9/11 attacks, accounting for as much as one-third of the CIA’s annual budget – reported an American newspaper, citing current and former US officials. The Los Angeles Times quoted officials as saying that the ISI had also "collected tens of millions of dollars through a classified CIA programme that pays for the capture or killing of wanted militants, a clandestine counterpart to the rewards publicly offered by the State Department." The officials said the payments have triggered intense debate within the US Government, because of "long-standing suspicions that the ISI continues to help Taliban who undermine US efforts in Afghanistan and provide sanctuary to Al Qaeda members in Pakistan." But US officials have continued the funding because the ISI’s assistance is considered crucial: "almost every major terrorist plot this decade has originated in Pakistan’s tribal belt, where ISI informant networks are a primary source of intelligence", said the newspaper.
The White House National Security Council has "this debate every year", said a former high-ranking US intelligence official involved in the discussions. Despite deep misgivings about the ISI, the official said, "there was no other game in town". The payments to Pakistan are authorised under a covert programme initially approved by former President George Bush and continued under President Barack Obama. "The CIA payments are a hidden stream in a much broader financial flow... the US has given Pakistan more than $15 billion over the last eight years in military and civilian aid," said Los Angeles Times. "The ISI has used the covert CIA money for a variety of purposes, including the construction of a new headquarters in Islamabad... that project pleased CIA officials because it replaced a structure considered vulnerable to attack: it also eased fears that the US money would end up in the private bank accounts of ISI officials," it said. Daily Times, November 16, 2009.
173 militants among 189 persons killed during the week in FATA: The Security Forces (SFs) killed 20 Taliban militants "over the last 24 hours" and found a huge cache of arms and ammunition, while eight soldiers – including an officer – were injured in Operation Rah-e-Nijat in various parts of South Waziristan. A statement by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said, on November 8, that troops consolidated their positions around Sararogha, Raghzai and Sagar Langer Gel, killing three Taliban in a clash: "Eight soldiers – including an officer – were injured and 12 Taliban were killed ... a factory for manufacturing IED components ... was found in Gadawai… Taliban fired small arms and rockets in Blanki Sar, Lagar Manza, Kund Mela and Makeen ... 5 Taliban were killed in clash."
At least 10 Taliban militants were killed in a clash in the Zachmir Kund area of Mohmand Agency on November 8, official sources disclosed. The clash erupted when Taliban attacked security forces with sophisticated weapons during a search operation in the area. Two SF personnel were also killed in fighting – which continued for about four hours. Five security personnel were injured.
The SFs killed three Taliban militants on November 8 and arrested another one in an injured condition, while eight others surrendered to the SFs in the Bajaur Agency.
On November 7, the SFs killed 12 Taliban militants in the Makeen town of South Waziristan. The SFs cleared the eastern edge of Makeen during efforts to secure the town.
Troops on November 6 entered Makeen as the military killed 24 militants in clashes. "Today (Friday), security forces moved into Makeen, which is considered the headquarters of the Taliban. A large part of town has been cleared. In the remaining parts, a search-and-clearance operation is underway," an ISPR statement disclosed, adding that intense clashes were in progress, and Taliban militants were fleeing the area – leaving behind their weapons and ammunition. Troops killed at least 21 militants in Makeen, where a house owned by slain TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud was also demolished. The Security Forces are also consolidating their positions around Sararogha, where search-and-clearance operations are underway. Troops, in addition, killed at least three TTP militants when the group fired rockets in Sararogha. Separately, a soldier was killed and six others sustained injuries during a search and clearance operations by the SFs in the Bara sub-division of Khyber Agency on November 6.
The SFs secured Ladha Fort in South Waziristan Agency on November 5 and consolidated their positions on peaks around another militant base. An ISPR statement indicated that 28 TTP militants had been killed, taking the death toll for the outfit to 422 since the Operation Rah-e-Nijat began on October 17, 2009. Five soldiers, including an officer, were killed and two were injured on November 5, according to the statement. Further, "Security Forces have secured Ladha Fort and the northeast area of Shashak and also cleared Bangel Khel." SFs secured the Ladha Fort and consolidated their positions on the peaks in the Sararogha area where the five soldiers were killed in a blast. The troops also conducted house-to-house search and clearance operations in the Spin Qamar, Wucha Kauna Algad and Lugar Manza areas. The SFs also recovered a heavy cache of arms from the Razmak-Makeen axis. Separately, four persons were killed when a US pilotless plane struck a house with missiles in the Naurak village of North Waziristan Agency on November 5. Tribal sources said the CIA-operated drone fired two missiles at 1:25 am at a house of a tribesman named Musharraf in Naurak, 12 kilometres from Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan, killing four persons. The political administration confirmed the attack but denied any casualties. In addition, two militants were killed and three volunteers of a peace committee were injured in a clash over the abduction of a doctor in the Sturikhel area of Orakzai Agency on November 5.
At least 30 militants were killed and eight soldiers, including two officers, sustained injuries in clashes and street fighting as the troops entered the Taliban stronghold of Ladha in South Waziristan Agency on November 4. Official sources said the fighting continued in Ladha and Sararogha and the troops cleared a major part of Sararogha following its capture a day earlier and withdrawal of most of the militants from the area. Political administration officials said the troops have also entered the Sam, Gadwai, Asman Manza and Karwan Manza areas. They said the troops faced tough resistance from the militants in Gadwai during their advance towards Ladha. However, the SFs managed to reach there after clashes with militants. Separately, four militants were killed when the SFs exchanged fire with them after an attack on a check-post at Hangu-Parachinar border in the Kurram Agency in the night of November 3. A woman was also killed and three others sustained injuries when an artillery shell fell at a house in Spim Wam during the exchange of fire. In addition, two female schoolteachers were killed on November 4 when the Taliban militants ambushed their car in Shandai Mor, two kilometres from Khar in Bajaur Agency. Shazia Begum and Shamim Bibi, teachers at the Communal Girls School, were travelling from the school when militants fired on the vehicle, killing the two and injuring two other persons.
The SFs advanced towards Janta on November 3 after securing areas around the Taliban stronghold of Sararogha in the South Waziristan Agency, where 21 militants and one soldier were reported dead by the ISPR. Official sources said the troops had secured the areas around Sararogha while clashes had taken place near Makeen and Sam where the militants were offering resistance. The troops claimed killing 16 militants during clashes in Sararogha while a soldier was killed and another injured in a landmine explosion in the area.
The ISPR Director General, Major General Athar Abbas, said on November 2 that the SFs had gained complete control of Kaniguram, a major stronghold of Uzbek fighters. He said the terrorists there had been using modern weaponry, fortified positions and bunkers, adding that the entire area had been cleared of mines and improvised explosive devices. He said the military had also secured Karama village, east of Kaniguram, and that other strategically important points around Kaniguram had also been secured. Giving details of Operation Rah-e-Nijat, he said 12 militants had been killed in the preceding 24 hours, and that six SF personnel had been injured. Separately, seven Taliban militants were killed in clashes with the SF personnel and aerial strikes in Bajaur Agency on November 2. The air and ground assault focused on Ovishah, Seolai, Kharkay and Badalai areas in the Mamoond sub-division, destroying four terrorist hideouts. The SFs also reportedly clashed with the militants in Mulla Said and Mataak in the Salarzai sub-division. Dawn; Daily Times; Jang, November 3-9, 2009.
22 militants and 13 civilians among 39 persons killed during the week in NWFP: At least 13 people, including a local councillor heading an anti-Taliban lashkar (militia), were killed and 44 injured, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a cattle market at Adezai village, 25 kilometres south of Peshawar on November 8. Peshawar Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Muhammad Karim Khan said that that around eight-to-10 kilograms of explosives were used in the blast. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Five Taliban militants and three Security Force (SF) personnel were killed in a clash at Tura Warai area of Hangu on November 7.
Eight militants were killed and four were arrested during search operations in the Swat District on November 6. According to the Swat Media Centre, the SFs conducted search operations in the Dakorak area of Charbagh sub-division early in the morning. During an exchange of fire with troops, local Taliban leader Fida Hussain and his four aides, Latif, Arsal Khan, Mohammad Anwar and Roshan, were killed. In another encounter, militant leader Fazal Maabud was killed and his unnamed associate was injured. In the Kabal sub-division, troops killed suspected militants Abdul Wali and Bakht Sher in a clash. Elsewhere in the province, an official of the Frontier Constabulary was killed and four persons, including a woman and boy, were injured in a militant attack on the Tora Warai Fort in Thall sub-division of Hangu District on November 6.
SFs killed at least four suspected Taliban militants in the Hangu District on November 4. A private TV channel reported that SF personnel were attacked by the Taliban at the Spin Thall check-post, near the District’s border with Kurram Agency in the FATA. The SFs killed four militants in retaliation. Separately, two alleged suicide bombers accidentally blew themselves up on their way to the PAF Range road, 25 kilometres from Kohat city in the Kohat District. According to Police, the suicide bombers were riding a motorcycle. After apparently slipping on the road, one of the bomber’s jacket accidentally exploded. Police teams have recovered the arms, legs and head of one of the bombers, the channel reported.
A would-be suicide bomber was killed before reaching his target in the Lachi sub-division of Kohat District on November 3. The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Abdullah Khan, told The News that a would-be suicide bomber, riding a motorcycle, was heading to his alleged target when he was blown up near the Iftikhar Well area in Lachi at 9:15 pm (PST). Elsewhere in the NWFP, a militant was killed and two others sustained injuries during a search operation carried out by the SFs at Manago area in the Shangla District on November 3. Dawn; Daily Times; Jang, November 3-9, 2009.
Anti-Money Laundering Bill 2009 approved: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance on November 3, 2009 approved the Anti-Money Laundering Bill 2009, declaring "terrorism financing" a criminal offence. Officials of the Finance Ministry and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reportedly informed the committee members that Pakistan, being a signatory to various UN conventions, required laws in line with international standards to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. The committee meeting, presided over by Fauzia Wahab, was attended by Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen, Finance Secretary Salman Siddique, the SBP deputy governor, SBP Banking Policy director and other senior officials. The committee also approved increases in penalties from PKR 1 million to PKR 5 million for a company or its employees found guilty of an offence under the proposed bill. The committee was informed that the amendments were in line with international standards on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism. In the proposed bill, the definition of "financial institutions" includes any institution accepting deposits and other repayable funds from public, lending in whatsoever form, financial leasing, money or valuable transfer, managing credit and debit cards, cheques, travellers cheque, money orders, bank drafts and electronic money among other financial activities. Daily Times, November 4, 2009.
35 persons killed in suicide attack in Rawalpindi: At least 35 persons, including two women and children, were killed and 63 others sustained injuries when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a branch of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in Rawalpindi on November 2, 2009. The majority of the blasts victims were reportedly military personnel and employees of the Defence Ministry who had queued up at the NBP Shalimar Plaza Branch to draw their salaries. It was the second terrorist attack in the Red Zone area of the garrison city within a month. According to eyewitnesses, many of the victims were retired military personnel who had gathered at the bank to draw their pensions. Several surrounding offices, part of a nearby hotel and a number of vehicles were also destroyed. Eyewitnesses said the attack occurred at 10:40 AM, when a man riding a motorcycle approached the parking lot of the plaza and blew himself up in front of the NBP branch, in close proximity to the Pearl Continental Hotel, the military’s General Headquarters and the State Bank of Pakistan. Rawalpindi Regional Police Officer (RPO) Aslam Tareen confirmed the eyewitnesses’ account: "We found parts of a suicide vest and some body parts of the suicide attacker. At least 35 people were killed and 63 others were wounded." The Inter-Services Public Relations Director General, Major General Athar Abbas, said four soldiers were killed and nine injured in the attack. Daily Times, November 5, 2009.
206 militants and 20 soldiers among 229 persons killed during the week in FATA: The Security Forces (SFs) killed 16 Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants and injured 10 others in clashes on November 1, 2009 during, Operation Rah-e-Nijat in the South Waziristan Agency. In the battle to control Sararogha, one of the main strongholds of the TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud, the SFs killed six militants and injured four others. Further, aerial strikes in Ladha, Saam, Gadawai, Maidaan and Makeen killed five militants and injured three others. Four TTP hideouts were also destroyed in the air-strikes. The SFs are also reported to have captured Kaniguram, a town with a population of 30,000, and seized heavy weapons during a door-to-door search operation. Separately, two civilians were killed as a mortar shell landed in the Alacha area of Landikotal, a sub-division of Khyber Agency, during an exchange of fire with militants late on October 31.
33 Taliban militants were killed in the battle for control of the Sararogha area on October 31, an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said. Four Army personnel were injured in the attack. "Security forces have entered Sararogha," the statement added. "The town has been surrounded from all three entry points. All the key positions and ridges around Sararogha have been taken over by security forces," it said. Separately, Pakistan Air Force fighter planes bombed militant hideouts in the Orakzai and Kurram Agencies of FATA, killing 15 Taliban militants on October 31. Official sources said jet fighters bombed three suspected hideouts of the TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud in Orakzai, killing at least eight Taliban militants and wounding several others. They said another air strike in Kurram killed seven militants. In addition, one militant was killed and several injured in clashes between SFs and the Taliban in Bajaur.
Seven SF personnel were killed and 12 were injured when Taliban militants attacked their vehicle using a remote-controlled bomb in the Sur Dhand area of Bara in the Khyber Agency on October 31.
14 Taliban militants and two soldiers were killed on the 14th day of Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan Agency on October 30. All 14 militants were killed along the Jandola-Sararogha axis, with troops advancing towards and securing an important area west of Dralima and northwest of Ahnei Kalle. Two soldiers were killed when the militants fired mortar shells. "On the Shakai-Kaniguram axis, Forces secured... ridge point 6,954 – 3 kilometres north of Kundmela and 2 kilometres west of Kaniguram," an ISPR statement said. Further, the ISPR said a clearance operation was underway in Khaikaeh Narai and surrounding areas. In addition, fighter jets are reported to have bombed Taliban positions in Kaniguram and Makeen. Separately, two Taliban militants were killed when tribesmen retaliated against an attack on the chief of a peace committee, and a peace volunteer was injured in crossfire in the Baizai sub-division of Mohmand Agency on October 30.
The SFs said they had killed 11 militants and lost one soldier with two others injured on October 29, the 13th day of Operation Rah-e-Nijat. However, reporters and cameramen of television channels flown to South Waziristan and taken on a guided visit to several points quoted the SFs as claiming that 82 militants were killed in the fighting. Local sources said the troops had surrounded Kaniguram village and were preparing to secure control of Masp Mela, Asman Manza and Karwan Manza. Fierce clashes were reported from Ahmadwam area near Srarogha. Local sources said 20 militants were killed in the clash in Ahmadwam. They did not mention casualties among the troops.
The SFs were only a few kilometres from Sararogha, the TTP stronghold, on the 12th day of Operation Rah-e-Nijat, on October 28. Sources said some militants were fleeing to North Waziristan from the Srarogha side and via the Shawal Road from Makeen due to increased pressure from the advancing troops. Local sources added that the troops were heading for Sararogha after getting full control of Kotkai and securing the surrounding areas and ridges. The ISPR said 25 militants were killed and a huge cache of arms and ammunition was recovered. Separately, four suspected militants were killed and three others injured in a clash with the SFs in Mohmand Agency on October 28.
On October 27, SFs claimed killing 42 militants, raising the toll to 240 since the launch of Operation Rah-e-Nijat on October 17. The troops admitted losing one soldier and injuries to two others as they advanced on the militants’ strongholds of Sararogha, Makeen and Ladha from three directions, using Wana, Jandola and Razmak as their rear bases. Tribal sources said the troops were facing stiff resistance during their advance towards Sararogha, Hakeemullah Mehsud’s stronghold, after the capture of Kotkai, Sherwangai, Chalweshtai and other small villages and mountain ridges. Separately, 11 militants and two soldiers were killed during an encounter between the SFs and militants in the Baizai tehsil (revenue division) of Mohmand Agency in the night of October 26. The militants attacked a check post in the Baidmani area of Baizai, triggering an attack by the SFs in which 11 militants and two soldiers were killed and two others injured. In addition, unidentified persons killed an active member of the tribal Lashkar (militia) in Khar, headquarters of the Bajaur Agency, on October 27.
Continuing their advance from three sides on the TTP strongholds of Sararogha, Ladha and Makeen on the 10th day of Operation Rah-e-Nijat, the SFs claimed killing 19 militants in three separate clashes on October 26. Six Army soldiers were also killed while 20 others sustained injuries during clashes between the two sides in the Gharlai, Sarwek, Shaga and Sharkai Sar areas. In their advance from three sides over the past 10 days, the SFs have captured Kotkai, village of the TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud and his cousin and suicide bombers’ trainer Qari Hussain, along with Sherwangai, Nawazkot, Chalweshtai and some key ridges. However, the troops faced tough resistance on the 10th day in their advance towards Sararogha.
Separately, nine militants were killed during clashes with the SFs in different areas of the Bajaur Agency on October 26. Sources said about 15 militants attacked a security post in the Mattak area near the Afghan border on October 25 and killed a Junior Commissioned Officer and three other SF personnel. Two SF personnel also sustained injuries in the attack. Troops subsequently fired back, killing six militants and injuring four others. According to official sources, the militants fired seven missiles on security posts in Tawheedabad and Sadiqabad and a base in Bilalabad. However, the missiles caused no damage or casualty. Three militants were killed and one was injured in an exchange of fire which continued for over an hour. In addition, the SFs claimed to have killed four militants and injured six others in aerial bombardments carried out at Mamozai area in Orakzai Agency on October 26. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, October 27-November 2, 2009.
118 civilians and 24 militants among 143 persons killed during the week in NWFP: A remote-controlled car bomb killed at least 118 people – including women and children – and injured more than 200 others at the Meena Bazaar in Peshawar, capital of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), on October 28. Bomb disposal squad chief Shafqat Malik told reporters that 150 kilograms of explosives were used in the remote-controlled blast. According to AFP, the explosion brought down buildings. A three-storey building and a mosque, Masjid Umme Habiba, situated in the narrow bazaar, caved in while six other structures were engulfed by a huge fire caused by the explosion. Around 12 houses and over 60 shops were gutted while almost 300 other shops and houses were severely damaged due to the powerful explosion at around 12:40 pm. The Meena Bazaar is famous for women’s dresses, cosmetics and children’s garments. Minister Iftikhar Hussain told journalists that the blast was linked with the ongoing military operation in South Waziristan against the Taliban, saying, "foreign terrorists – including Arabs, Chechens and Uzbeks – stationed in Waziristan are carrying out attacks in Pashtun areas". However, no group claimed responsibility for the bombing.
16 militants were killed and 23 others wounded during a joint operation by the Army and Frontier Constabulary in the Tora Warai area of Hangu District on October 25 and 26. 54 militants, including some Afghans, were arrested during the operation. According to officials, security officer Abdul Jaffar was killed and seven other SF personnel sustained injuries in the operation which was launched after an attack by militants on a military check-post in Tora Warai late on October 25. Hundreds of militants of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan from Orakzai Agency and Hangu reportedly took part in the attack. Troops repulsed the attack after a gun-battle which continued for about two hours. Officials told Dawn that militants had taken away the bodies of their colleagues and the injured. Six hideouts of the militants were destroyed in Tora Warai and a large quantity of arms and ammunition, including two rocket-launchers, five rockets, two grenades, three shotguns, two rifles, four pistols and automatic weapons, was seized.
Further, eight bodies of suspected militants were recovered in the Swat District on October 26. Four bodies were reportedly found dumped in the Khwazakhela area, official sources said. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, October 27-November 2, 2009.
Militants who attacked UN guesthouse in Kabul came from Pakistan, says Afghan intelligence: The suicide attack at a United Nations guesthouse in Kabul on October 28, 2009, was a joint operation directed by an Afghan warlord based in the tribal areas of Pakistan and an Al Qaeda operative, the Afghan intelligence Director said. The intelligence official, Amrullah Saleh, said six Afghan suspects had been arrested, including an imam (prayer leader) who had provided a hideaway for the attackers. He said the suspects had said that the three suicide attackers were all from the Swat Valley in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Saleh said the operation was jointly directed. One group was the Haqqani network, a Taliban-affiliated organization led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin, which is based in North Waziristan, and the other leader was an Al Qaeda operative known as Ajmal, who fled to the Waziristan area. 11 persons, including five UN personnel, were killed in the attack. Times of India, November 2, 2009.
No evidence on India's involvement in Balochistan, says US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the US does not have any evidence of India's involvement in Balochistan amid Pakistan's allegation that New Delhi was fomenting trouble in the province. "Well, first of all, we have no evidence of that. I mean, we just have no evidence of that," Clinton said in reply to a question that many Pakistanis believe that India is fomenting trouble in Balochistan. Describing Balochistan as "a very volatile region," she said, during her interaction with Pakistani editors in Lahore on October 29-night, that she had not seen any evidence from Pakistan about India's involvement in Balochistan. Rediff, October 31, 2009. Rediff, October 31, 2009.
FBI neutralises Lashkar-e-Toiba plot to use American for attacks in India and Denmark: US investigating agencies have neutralised a plot by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) to use an American national for terrorist attacks in Denmark and India. The man, identified as David Coleman Headley, was one of two suspects arrested early in October 2009 by FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport before he boarded a flight to Philadelphia, from where he was intending to travel to Pakistan to meet Pakistani terrorist handlers, including the fugitive Ilyas Kashmiri. Headley's partner in the terror plot, which included plans to attack the Danish newspaper that published cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, was a Pakistani-Canadian named Tahawwur Hussain Rana, also a resident of Chicago who was arrested by the FBI on October 18.
According to the FBI affidavit filed in a Chicago court, Headley was in close contact with Ilyas Kashmiri and several unidentified leaders of LeT, two of whom are identified as "LeT member A" and "Individual A." He had visited Pakistan before to meet LeT handlers and was returning there ostensibly to finalize plans for strikes. "In July and August 2009, Headley exchanged a series of e-mails with LeT Member A, including an exchange in which Headley asked if the Denmark project was on hold, and whether a visit to India that LeT member A had asked him to undertake was for the purpose of surveying targets for a new terrorist attack," the FBI said in its affidavit. "These e-mails reflect that LeT Member A was placing a higher priority on using Headley to assist in planning a new attack in India than on completing the planned attack in Denmark," it said. Although the affidavit named Kashmiri, it did not identify others involved in the plot, referring to them as LeT member A and Individual A. It said LeT member A "has substantial influence and responsibility within the organization" and his "identity is known to the Government." Times of India, November 2, 2009.
[South Asia Intelligent Review]