SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
The battle between the Security Forces (SFs) and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has intensified and is clearly widening across Pakistan. According to official data, 1,400 ‘militants’ (no independent verification is possible, but it is widely believed that a significant proportion of civilian fatalities are clubbed into this category) have been killed so far in a military offensive that commenced on April 26, 2009, even as the conflict has led to the displacement of more than 3.8 million people. While the operations were initially confined to Lower Dir, Buner and Swat Districts of the NWFP, they have gradually enveloped the rest of the Malakand Division [comprising seven Districts of Swat, Buner, Shangla, Dir Upper, Dir Lower, Malakand and Chitral (the last is the only District where operations are not currently taking place)] in the Frontier and, now in some measure during the last week, to the South Waziristan, Orakzai, Bajaur and Mohmand Agencies in the adjoining FATA. While the SFs have stepped up their operations, the TTP has expectedly responded with a welter of attacks across Pakistan’s urban areas and elsewhere.
Dramatic evidence of retaliation by the TTP was most recently visible in a suicide bombing at the five-star Pearl Continental hotel in Peshawar, the NWFP capital, on June 9, 2009 which killed 17 people and injured 60 others. The militants stormed the compound in two vehicles at about 10:30pm, firing at the security guards manning the hotel gate with bullets from one, and blowing up the other in the hotel’s parking area. "It was a suicide attack," Capital City Police Officer Sefwat Ghayur told AFP. Among the wounded was the ruling Awami National Party’s Hajj, Zakat and Ushar Minister, Haji Zarshad Khan, Senator Nabi Bangash, UN officials, foreigners and an airline’s crew. 40 vehicles parked in the compound were destroyed and the hotel building was partially destroyed. Bomb Disposal Squad officials determined that at least 500 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack, which created a 15-foot wide and six-foot deep crater. Approximately 600 kilograms of explosives had been used to blow up the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on September 20, 2008. Incidentally, both these hotels are owned by business tycoon Sadruddin Hashwani.
Khyber Road, where the explosion occurred, is a target rich area with the NWFP Assembly and several Government and military buildings, including the Peshawar High Court, residences of the Corps Commander, Inspector General of the NWFP Police, the Golf Club, and District Courts, located there. Hotel Pearl Continental, or PC as it is more famously known, is considered "a symbol of the modern and liberal Peshawar" and regularly hosted dignitaries and officials who visited Peshawar despite the chaos. This was certainly factored in by the militants who carried out the attack. Many foreigners, most of them associated with aid agencies, were reportedly staying in the hotel. Two foreign UN officials, Serbian national Aleksandar Vorkapic of the UNHCR and Perseveranda So of the Philippines working for UNICEF, and three local officials of the United Nations Population Fund were among those killed in the suicide bombing. A UN official said four of the injured UN workers included Gordon Brown and Augustine Fredrick of the World Food Programme, Adili Motupotu of the World Health Organisation and UNICEF intern Anna Ciger. Furthermore, citing two US officials in Washington, The Associated Press said that the State Department had been in negotiations with the hotel’s owners to either purchase the facility or sign a long-term lease to house a new American consulate in Peshawar. There was, however, no American casualty. Nevertheless, the fact that militants could travel through such a highly protected zone with a truck laden with 500 kilograms of explosives in times like these is an indication of the alarming state of affairs in Pakistan.
As is the practice of late, a hitherto unknown militant group, the Abdullah Azzam Shaheed Brigade, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack. Its spokesman, Amir Muawiya, a Pakistani TTP commander operating from the arms bazaar of Darra Adamkhel, telephoned reporters in Kohat city of NWFP on June 10, claiming responsibility and threatened more such bombings. His group, led by Commander Tariq Afridi, is affiliated to the Baitullah Mehsud-led TTP. He said the bombing was in retaliation to military operations, at the behest of the US, in Swat and the rest of Malakand, and also in the tribal areas of Darra Adamkhel and Orakzai Agency. Subsequently, the Tehrik-i-TTP Pakistan claimed responsibility for the June 12 suicide attacks in Lahore and Nowshera and the bombing of Hotel Pearl Continental. "We claim responsibility for these attacks," a man identifying himself as Saeed Hafiz and claiming to be deputy of Hakeemullah Mehsud based in Orakzai Agency told Dawn. He said the TTP would soon release the video of the PC attack.
After a month and half of military operations, the Pakistan Army has claimed progress in ‘securing’ the Malakand Division and there is considerable chatter of an offensive in Waziristan. More significantly, the Barack Obama administration, which has constantly been nudging Pakistan ‘to do more’, appears to be content with the present ‘progress’. A pleased US administration has agreed to triple American non-military aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion per year. Islamabad has evidently been able to execute what Bowyer Bell has, in a different context, described as a ‘tactical terrorist manipulation’. And even as US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke has pledged an additional $200 million for Pakistan’s displaced citizens, there are enough indications that Pakistan will continue to ‘extend’ such qualified assistance in the ‘war on terror’ and secure substantial approbation and economic rewards for services rendered.
Crucially, the military operations are directed against the TTP, which has turned against Islamabad, and there is nothing to suggest that Pakistan has corrected course and abandoned its past policy of duplicity. It continues to consider groups like the Afghan Taliban, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and other terrorist proxies operating in Afghanistan and India, as its strategic assets.
A deeper scrutiny not only detects the limits of the present pattern of military operations, but also the divergence between the projected and the actual. For instance, attempts at declaring victory by claiming that the tide was turning against TTP are undoubtedly a deception. By the Government’s own admission, there were at least 5,000-6,000 TTP militants in Swat alone (TTP have, of course, claimed a higher cadre strength). Officially, only a disputable 1,400 have been accounted for (as of June 12). According to open source monitoring by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, 2,028 militants have died in the whole of NWFP between April 26, 2009, and June 12, in addition to 310 civilians and 184 soldiers. ‘Securing’ Swat and the rest of Malakand Division obviously remains a distant goal, even though Islamabad’s spin doctors are peddling narratives of a military victory in the Frontier. Little of the TTP leadership has been neutralized. In fact, no TTP key leader has been arrested or killed in the Swat valley so far. Maulana Fazlullah, the Swat unit chief, and other leaders, such as the spokesman and military commander in Mingora, Muslim Khan, Fazlullah’s deputy Shah Doran, Ibn Amin, leader of the ‘Tora Bora Brigade’, Mehmood Khan, Akbar Hussain, Sher Muhammad Kasab, Sirajuddin, Bakht Farzand, Mian Gul Ghafoor, Nisar Ahmed, Laldin a.k.a. Baray Mian, Anwarullah, Bashir Ahmed, and Rashid Ahmed are all at large. While two ‘commanders’ identified as Malanga and Riaz were reportedly killed on May 18 (TTP has neither confirmed nor denied this), the military’s claim of killing commanders Abu Tariq and Rashid Lala is yet to be verified. Abu Tariq (who, some reports indicate, is in fact spokesman Muslim Khan), has since May 21, when his killing was announced, talked to the media on several occasions. On May 21, Lala also contacted the media to prove he was alive. Notwithstanding such controversies, the TTP leadership has all gone underground, with some moving into Afghanistan. While some cadres have melted into the IDP camps, others have just trekked to the mountains or to other parts of Pakistan, retaining their capacity to strike at will. The retaliatory campaign in Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad, and other parts is a testimony to this. On its part, the Government has claimed that the second and third rung TTP leadership has been eliminated from Swat while the top ones, including Fazlullah, have escaped to South Waziristan.
Central to the TTP retaliation is Peshawar, which is now relentlessly being attacked. Two days after the PC was bombed, there were another two attacks in the provincial capital, including one in the same area. While a man was killed and 13 others, including nine Policemen, sustained injuries in a hand grenade-cum-suicide attack on a Police party in the Lateefabad area on Ring Road, two suspects were killed and six others arrested as troops foiled a audacious terrorist attack at the house of Peshawar Corps Commander, Lt. Gen. Masood Aslam, commander of the operations against the TTP in NWFP, on Khyber Road. Incidentally, the boundary wall of his residence had collapsed due to the suicide bombing at PC. Further, on June 11, Mian Nisar Gul Kakakhel, the Minister for Prisons in NWFP, sustained bullet injuries while two of his security guards died when militants attacked his car in Darra Adam Khel area, some 35 kilometers from Peshawar. One of three attackers was reportedly killed in the exchange of fire.
Since military operations were launched in NWFP on April 26, there have been 29 terrorism-related incidents in Peshawar, including three suicide attacks, with a total of at least 83 persons, including 51 civilians and 21 militants, killed and 236 persons wounded. Earlier, between January 1 and April 25, there were 28 incidents in Peshawar in which 31 persons, including 12 civilians and 11 militants, died and 52 persons were injured. Within the Frontier, they have also targeted places like Lakki Marwat, Kohat, Buner, Hangu, Dera Ismail Khan and Haripur.
The TTP have also attacked other urban areas, including, repeatedly, the national capita, Islamabad and the Punjab provincial capital, Lahore. There have been four terrorist attacks in Punjab since April 26: the May 27th attack when suicide bombers detonated a vehicle loaded with 100 kilograms of explosives near offices of the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) and the Inter-Services Intelligence in Lahore killing at least 27 persons and injuring 326 others; the suicide attack on June 6 targeting a Rescue 15 office in capital Islamabad, in which two Policemen were killed and four others injured; and the June 12 suicide attack in Lahore in which seven persons were killed.
There is a wave of violence, from both sides, sweeping across Pakistan. On June 12, prominent anti-TTP cleric Maulana Sarfaraz Naeemi was among seven persons killed in a suicide bombing at the Jamia Naeemia seminary in Lahore. Naeemi was among those clerics who had issued an edict on October 14, 2008, declaring suicide attacks against Muslims and civilians as haram (forbidden). In another blast at around the same time, five worshippers were killed and 105 sustained injuries when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden van into a mosque during the Friday prayers in the Cantonment area of Nowshera in NWFP.
There is a squeeze factor at work here. The military operations have, in fact, led to a dispersal of violence. If the situation worsens in the days to come, the SFs will definitely be over-extended. For instance, while the military offensive in six out of the seven Districts of Malakand Division continues, operations have also been launched in adjacent areas. Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) has indicated that the Janikhel area in Bannu is a staging post for militants operating in Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat and Peshawar. Official sources claimed that over 200 militants had been killed in the four-day operation in Bannu. These figures, like the data for the other current conflict theatres, cannot be verified through independent sources. The ‘militant’ category may, moreover, include a large proportion of civilians, as no credible system of identification appears to be in place. And even as ground troops move into Bannu, reports suggest that 500 to 600 militants are coming in from the FATA to bolster the TTP ranks in Bannu, a clear indication that the offensive in Bannu will also be protracted.
The controlled military operations currently underway in South Waziristan, Orakzai Agency and Mohmand Agency are part of a strategy that intends to tie down the militants so that they are unable to reinforce their brethren in the Frontier. It is also aimed at disrupting their retaliatory action in the urban areas. Sources in Islamabad indicate that operations in Bannu are also intended at "softening up" the TTP before the probable offensive in Waziristan. While President Asif Ali Zardari had indicated to The Sunday Times on May 17, that Waziristan would be the next, it is unlikely that any full fledged operation would be launched in the region immediately. Based on the trajectory of the operations in NWFP, full blown operations in FATA will probably get underway only after the whole of Malakand is secure and may perhaps as well be coordinated with comparable US action on the other side of the Durand Line. However, with the ongoing narrative indicating that the Army is in for a long haul in Malakand, operations in FATA may, consequently, be a dangerous case of the Army over-extending itself.
The augmenting refugee problem is largely due to the indiscriminate use of aerial force and long range weapons, including missiles and artillery, which have flattened of villages across large tracts of the Frontier. It is this campaign of bombardment and strafing which has led to the exodus of more than 3.8 million IDPs. There has been minimal ground engagement in these operations in the Frontier, and this is reflected in the low 100-odd fatalities among SFs – with a majority of these deaths inflicted in terrorist attacks, and not in frontal engagement with the militants.
The IDPs will be the most affected due to the continued targeting of cities like Peshawar. In the immediate aftermath of the attack on PC, there will be a flight out of Peshawar by most international relief organisations. In fact, UN agencies and foreign missions in Peshawar have reportedly suspended their activities and evacuated staff members to national capital Islamabad after the PC suicide bombing. NWFP had reportedly been placed in Phase-III of the UN security since the past several months due to the adverse conditions and the expatriate staff had been asked to stay away from Peshawar. In the next security phase, the UN could completely halt its operations in the Frontier. Even otherwise, Pakistan is struggling to cope with the swelling number of IDPs. According to scholar Ahmed Rashid, Islamabad says that no European or Muslim Arab country has sent any major aid. This is also a fair measure of Pakistan’s progressive international isolation.
While military operations targeting the TTP have secured a semblance of public support, a surge in the TTP bombing campaign could undermine this support. The ‘collateral damage’ from indiscriminate bombing, missile attacks and strafing across the Frontier, and the augmenting IDP crisis have already led to immense resentment across the country. In fact, such ‘collateral damage’ will have perilous ramifications in the immediate future, both in terms of public support and the fact that accounts of Islamabad bombing its own will provoke further militant recruitment. While the Army has admitted to a little more than 100 casualties in the campaign so far, there has been no mention about civilian casualties. And any probable military action in FATA, howsoever necessary it may be from the strategic point of view, and the consequent and inevitable displacement and severe retaliation from militants, may undo all of Islamabad’s plans. In fact, around 90 per cent of the local tribesmen have already left South Waziristan and are now living in settled Districts, according to Senator Saleh Shah, who added that the Government had failed to make arrangements for the people who have fled the area. In fact, according to U.N. officials, the mass exodus from the Frontier is reportedly the largest and fastest displacement of people since the genocide in Rwanda 15 years ago.
Absent the complete neutralization of, not only of the TTP leadership and cadres, but of the entire TTP – al Qaeda network, the IDPs will not return to their homes or whatever is left of it. In fact, the possibility of the TTP – al Qaeda regrouping and waging a long-term guerilla campaign has led to President Asif Ali Zardari announcing, during his address to the nation on June 12, that there would be a military cantonment in Swat. He also said Pakistan was battling for its "sovereignty," adding that it would fight "until the end." Much is obviously at stake for Pakistan’s survival.
the Real Prachanda Stand Up?
As Nepal continues to reel under the violent efforts of the Maoists to pursue ‘peaceful’ politics, the question looms ever larger: just what is on the mind of Maoist leader and now former Prime Minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda? His Maoists have lost the reins of power through their own refusal to foster reconciliation. Yet, no sooner has his custom-made bed been moved out of the official Prime Minister’s Baluwater residence, than the ‘Fierce One’ claims that the democratic process is "counterrevolution".
For good measure, he throws in that the goal of the new leadership – headed by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal of the Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) – is to restore the monarchy; which would seem laughable were it not accompanied by the orders for the Maoist Young Communist League (YCL) storm troopers and the various Maoist front organizations to take to the streets and shut down the country.
Is this method or madness?
Since Prachanda’s resignation as Prime Minister on May 4, 2009, and the fall of the Maoist-led coalition Government, the Himalayan former-kingdom has plunged into chaos. Though the new CPN-UML-led coalition formed the Government on May 23, 2009, it is far from projecting an impression of strength or stability. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has failed even to give final shape to his Cabinet, not only because of strong lobbying for ministerial berths by coalition partners, but also due bickering within his own party.
Furthermore, there effectively has been a split in the Madhesh Janadhikar Forum (MJF), a crucial ally in the coalition, with 53 Constitutional Assembly (CA) seats, after the appointment of Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar as the Deputy Prime Minister, much to the annoyance of the MJF leadership headed by Upendra Yadav. The Yadav group has expelled the faction led by Gachhadar and six others, who in turn have approached the Election Commission claiming that they have majority support in the party.
Meantime, the Maoists have stepped up their nationwide protest, often accompanied by violence, against President Ram Baran Yadav’s move reinstating the Chief of Army Staff (CoAS), General Rookmangud Katawal – whom the Maoists had sought to dismiss due to conflict over the ‘integration’ of Maoist armed cadres and leaders in the Nepali Army (NA). The Maoists have also disrupted the normal proceedings of Parliament for the past month, even as attacks on non-Maoist politicians escalate.
Having unleashed the violence, Prachanda and the Maoist leadership are now poised to exploit the expected systemic weakness. Yet the extent to which even they control what they are enabling remains an open question. Here, understanding the relationship between the Maoist leadership and the manpower of the movement is critical in order to understand the course of the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist’s (CPN-M) ‘people’s war’ – and to understand the inability of Prachanda’s erstwhile Maoist-led, pseudo-coalition Government to produce little beyond chaos, declining livelihood, and intimidation.
Many have argued – certainly it seems to be the opinion of a fraction of the Indian foreign policy establishment – that Prachanda is ‘really’ a larger than life version of Robin Hood, who has sought only to address the myriad economic, social, and political grievances (as well as hopes and aspirations) of the marginalized Nepali masses. This ‘moral economy of the peasants’ version, however, simply does not consider the obvious: what if Robin is just a Hood?
The central question of the nasty decade of Maoist insurgency in Nepal has been whether the dog wagged his tail, or vice versa. How much of what occurred – and it was a bloody decade between 1996 and 2006, with the dead augmented an order of magnitude by mutilations, disappearances, and the like – was planned or simply the result of being astute enough to exploit events as they were carried out autonomously or semi-autonomously by others?
What seems clear is that, with a fairly typical (in Nepali terms) party structure, the CPN-M – led by marginalized elites (the principal figures among whom, like Prachanda, were Brahmins) – achieved traction through linkage with dissatisfied tribal formations, particularly Maggars (who appear historically to have provided a plurality of those recruited to the British Gurkhas). This was not unlike what occurred in the Hmong areas of the north during the unsuccessful effort of the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) or in the northern Luzon homelands of the Igorots during the 1980s heyday of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). There, the leadership was Maoist, the manpower ‘grievance guerrillas’. Whether the CPT or CPP actually exercised complete command and control over the tribal formations remains unclear, as it does in the CPN-M case.
In Nepal, the tribal formations appear to have been the heart of the main forces, the Maoist battalions, just as the so-called ‘Secret Army’ of the US in Laos was built on Hmong alienated by North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao abuse. The Maoist battalions were in essence copies of the Indian Gurkha establishment – no surprise given the prominence in Maoist training of ex-figures from that establishment, which presently accounts for more than 40 battalions of the Indian Army. They were mixed gender, had good discipline, and fought effectively, using standard, though innovative, tactical doctrine.
These forces, however, were a distinct minority amidst the violence that swept across Nepal. They were linked to the numerous local wars that raged in Nepal’s localities – theoretically, in the 3,913 Village Development Committees (VDCs, counties in Western terminology). It was at this local level that widespread atrocities took place.
Efforts to place the onus of human rights abuses on Government forces do not hold up well, since they essentially sidestep the massive level of assault and maiming, not to mention destruction of infrastructure, which was carried out by Maoist local forces. Even as this debate has continued, what has not been touched is the connection between such local agency and Maoist central structures, and the question: How much was ordered versus simply exploited?
The CPN-M leadership has, throughout, claimed absolute control over the organization – except when it comes to owning up to widespread depredation. On the contrary, the Maoists continue to fall back on denying what is undeniable: the fact that their movement wreaked havoc on the country. Yet the only defence is to claim that the main forces were the movement, and the rest occurred as commission by loosely affiliated fellow-travellers. But this would be an admission that they did not actually control the insurgency.
This is far from an idle issue, since lawlessness continues under the official umbrella of the YCL storm troopers drawn from the lumpen ranks (to include street urchins and dragooned youngsters) but officered by the same Maoist chain-of-command that ran the main forces. With tacit protection from the erstwhile Maoist-led Government, YCL continued to engage in various criminal activities, including murder, extortion, and abduction, silencing political opponents across Nepal. On occasion, the YCL has also been involved in quasi-policing activities, such as traffic management, night patrolling, demolition of illegal houses, and the capture of alleged gangsters. Backed by the full might of the Maoists, YCL cadres openly challenged Government authorities, including the police, and progressively established a parallel authority and system.
As a consequence, the demoralized Police, unable to act due to continuous political intervention, have been progressively displaced by armed gangs linked to the major political parties. Even a smaller party, such as the pro-monarchy Rastriya Prajatantra Party – Nepal (RPP-N), announced the formation of a 151-member National Youth Front (NYF) on June 12, in an effort to form a counterforce against the unruly YCL, and against the Youth Force, the youth wing of the ruling CPN-UML.
This matters very much, also, as illustrated by ‘Prachandagate’. The Maoists – by Prachanda’s own recorded admission – packed both local and main forces into the camps established under United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) monitoring for the Maoist armed cadres, plus thousands of brand new recruits. In any Maoist structure, main forces (the battalions) are the tip of the iceberg. Most ‘combatants’ are local forces, trained, but lacking high-powered firearms. It is not that UNMIN ‘miscounted’ the Maoist armed strength. It is that the inspectors did not know what to count. The structure is similar to that of any state security apparatus. In Nepal, for instance, the bulk of the armed representatives of the Government are not in the Army but in other forces, such as the Police.
Hence – as Prachanda himself said in his defence – most of those in the camps were indeed ‘combatants’ of sorts but not the ‘real guerrillas’ that the world was hoodwinked into thinking it was counting. Further, while UNMIN could count weapons turned in, it had no way of knowing what was not turned in – and some of the best and most powerful pieces did not appear in the inspectors’ inventories.
What happened next has already been noted by one and all. The camps were used to expand the actual main forces (with the Maoists allowed to retain a proportion of their weapons), while the chain-of-command raised new local forces – the YCL.
What, then, do the Maoists have in mind for the future of Nepal? Prachanda speaks constantly of the need to displace parliamentary democracy in favour of a ‘people’s republic’ (though, as with the actual name of the CPN-M, now the UCPN-M, a new formulation has lately been advanced). Addressing a workers' gathering in Lalitpur on May 29, 2009, the day Nepal observed its first Republic Day, Prachanda reiterated that he would lead the ‘final fight’ to establish ‘people’s republic’ in the country. Key elements in the Maoist leadership urge an outright power grab. Prachanda and his faction appear to feel that this would provoke, at best, isolation (not least from dominant India), at worst, external intervention (again, India is a prime candidate). They urge caution, consequently, noting that the same end can be achieved without such extreme provocation.
The Maoists themselves are rent by factionalism, with some truly odious characters not only urging but openly leading violent acts even as Prachanda counsels… what? As noted accurately in Nepali media, the ‘Fierce One’ seems all but schizophrenic in his shifts between conciliatory rhetoric and threats of vengeance to be visited upon any who seek to thwart his or his party’s grandiose schemes.
From knowledge, though, comes the ability to act. Key issues relating to the basics of the Maoist military structure that require understanding include:
One thing is clear, even to many who have hitherto lived in a state of false consciousness: Power is the end-game for Prachanda and the Maoists. All they do revolves around that one goal. Power can be secured ‘peacefully’ – by which the Maoists mean the system surrenders to them and their plans for societal dismemberment. Or it can be achieved violently – what the Maoists are preparing to do with their street thugs (something they have now announced unambiguously).
up any volume on the rise of Fascism between the great
wars. There, a reader will find spelled out, chapter
and verse, what is unfolding in Nepal. Only the name
of the storm-troopers has changed to protect the guilty.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
June 8-14, 2009
Bangladesh Police denies media reports about the arrest of ULFA chief Paresh Baruah: Some media reports have stated that the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) ‘commander-in-chief’ Paresh Baruah was arrested from an apartment in the Uttara area of Bangladesh capital Dhaka on June 14, 2009. One report said that Baruah was picked up carrying a passport that had his photograph but gave his name as Shamsul Hussain. Five other persons - Pradip Brahma, Partha Chetia, Kantilal Chakma, Shyam Dev Barman and Prashant Pahari - were also arrested along with Baruah. However, on the same day, Bangladesh authorities rejected these reports as "rubbish".Telegraph India; Times of India, June 15, 2009.
24 SF personnel killed in Jharkhand during the week: 13 Security Force (SF) personnel were killed in two separate attacks by the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres in Bokaro District on June 12, 2009. CPI-Maoist cadres attacked a State Bank of India branch near Fusro Market of Bokaro town in the afternoon, killing two Jharkhand Police personnel, who foiled their attempt to loot money from the bank. At least 10 persons were injured when the Maoists hurled bombs and opened indiscriminate fire in the market area. An encounter took place between SFs and the Maoists in the Bermo Police Station area of Bokaro after the attack. Separately, the CPI-Maoist cadres detonated a landmine in the Nawadih area of the same District, killing at least 11 SF personnel and injuring eight, the Director General of Police V.D. Ram disclosed. The slain SF personnel belonged to the Jharkhand Armed Police and Special Armed Force, raised to fight the CPI-Maoist.
Earlier, 11 Policemen, including a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Inspector, were killed and six others injured when Maoists triggered a landmine explosion targeting their vehicle in West Singhbhum District on June 10. A joint team of the CRPF and Jharkhand Police was returning from a two-day long-range patrolling in Saranda Forest when the explosion took place between Serengda and Aruanga villages, Jharkhand Police chief V. D. Ram said. PTI News, June 10 and 12, 2009.
More than 500 people killed in NWFP during the week: Security Forces (SFs) said, on June 14, 2009, they had killed 35 Taliban militants, including some foreigners, in Army operations in Bannu during the preceding 24 hours. SFs, continuing their operations against the Taliban, reportedly bombarded suspected militant hideouts from Janikhel Fort. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said one soldier was killed and three injured in an exchange of fire with militants in the Kabal sub-division of Swat District.
Nine people were killed and more than 40 others were injured in a bomb blast at the busy Tejarat Gunj Bazaar in Dera Ismail Khan on June 14.
On June 13, SFs killed 41 Taliban militants in military operations in the Malakand Division and Bannu District, the ISPR said, adding that a soldier was also killed and seven others were injured in the fighting.
Five worshippers were killed and 105 others sustained injuries when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden van into a mosque during Friday prayers in the Cantonment area of Nowshera on June 12. Furthermore, 39 militants and 10 soldiers were killed in clashes between the SFs and Taliban in the Swat Valley on June 12. In addition, 18 militants were killed as SFs continued their operations in the Janikhel and Hindikhel areas of Bannu District on the fourth consecutive day on June 12. Sources said SFs entered the Hindikhel area after clearing Sra Dargah area of the militants. "At least 18 militants were killed in the daylong clashes in different areas of the semi-tribal region," the sources said, adding that the troops faced stiff resistance in Hindikhel.
SFs killed 66 militants and arrested nine others, while four soldiers also died and 12 sustained injuries in various areas of Malakand Division and Bannu, the ISPR said on June 11. The SFs, on June 11, intensified military operation in Bannu and targeted the Taliban positions with jet fighters, helicopter gunship and artillery, in Janikhel and Zaidi Akbar Khan areas, killing 50 militants. Official sources said, more than 150 militants had been killed in the three-day military offensive. Further, SFs claimed to have killed five militants during an encounter in the Kambar area of Dir Lower District on June 11, while two children were killed in fighting between the armed Lashkar (militia) of villagers and militants in Dir Upper District. Separately, the NWFP Minister for Prisons, Mian Nisar Gul Kakakhel, was seriously injured in an armed attack near the Friendship Tunnel in the Darra Adamkhel area on June 11, while two of his security guards and an attacker were killed in the exchange of fire. The minister, who is a resident of Karak District, was on his way to Peshawar when his motorcade was attacked in Darra Adamkhel.
A man was killed and 13 others, including nine Policemen, sustained injuries in a hand grenade-cum-suicide attack on a Police party in the Lateefabad area on Ring Road in Peshawar, the NWFP capital, in the night of June 11. In another incident in the provincial capital, two suspects were killed and six others arrested as Policemen and troops deployed at the Peshawar Corps Commander’s House foiled a terrorist attack in the high security zone on Peshawar’s Khyber Road on June 11.
Troops killed more than 100 Taliban militants during two days of operation in the Jani Khel and Baka Khel areas of Bannu District. A private TV channel reported on June 10 that Taliban commander Sher Alam was among the dead. "Forces pounded the militant hideouts for the whole night and in the morning in Jani Khel tribal area," local Police official Khalil Zaman told AFP. Separately, 23 Taliban militants and two soldiers were killed in clashes in parts of the Swat District on June 10. The Army is reported to have secured the Shalkosar Top and Shalkosar Kandao in Peochar Valley. 16 militants were killed in fierce fighting over Shalkosar.
Troops killed 27 Taliban militants in various parts of Malakand Division, while a soldier was killed and nine others injured in clashes with the militants on June 9. A military statement said 14 militants were killed and 22 arrested during a search and destroy operation in Peochar Valley. A soldier was killed in a Taliban attack on the Kalpanai check-post, and three others were injured during a clash in Uchrai Sar. Further, tribal militia in the Upper Dir District secured four villages and killed 13 Taliban militants. Foreign news agencies said they were backed by Army helicopter gunships. In addition, SFs on June 9 launched an operation against the Bakakhel and Janikhel tribesmen in the Bannu District for their failure to hand over the kidnappers of the Razmak Cadet College students and teachers. There were reports that 20 militants were killed and several others injured in the operation.
An Upper Dir tribal lashkar (militia) seeking retaliation for the suicide attack (June 5) at a mosque, killed 14 Taliban militants, including ‘commander’ Chamto Afghani, and burnt the houses of another 13, as they besieged two Taliban strongholds of Shatkas and Mena villages on June 8. Locals said heavy firing continued on the third consecutive day on June 8, as the militants, whose number was said to be between 200 and 300, had been holed up. In addition, 21 militants were killed in various parts of the Malakand Division, according to a Press release by the ISPR on June 8. In Swat District, three militants were killed in Charbagh after a tip off from the civilian residents during a cordon and search operation. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, June 9-15, 2009.
150 militants and 20 civilians among 173 persons killed in FATA during the week: A US missile strike targeting militants killed three persons on June 14 in the Laddha region of South Waziristan Agency. "A drone attack targeting a militant vehicle killed three people in Mardar Algad area… There is a training camp close to this area," Amir Mohammad Khan, a local administration official in Laddha, stated. In addition, three people were killed and two injured when a vehicle carrying supplies for NATO forces hit a roadside bomb in South Waziristan.
30 terrorists, including a few foreigners, were killed and 50 injured at Makeen in South Waziristan due to an air strike on June 13, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) disclosed in a statement on June 14. Further, Air Force jets and helicopter gunships targeted suspected militant positions in the Salarzai and Nawagai areas of Bajaur Agency on June 14, killing at least nine militants. On June 13, the Security Forces (SFs) had reportedly killed 10 militants by targeting their hideouts with jetfighters and helicopter gunships in different areas of the Nawagai Sub-division.
SFs on June 13 claimed to have killed 24 militants in an operation in the Mohmand Agency. In addition, 12 civilians were killed when shells missed their targets and landed in the civilian areas of the agency.
Seven Taliban militants were killed by the SFs in Bajaur Agency’s Charmang area, considered to be a Taliban stronghold, on June 12, 2009. Planes and helicopters attacked militants’ positions in Tangi, Hashim Ziarat, Kotki and Babara.
SFs on June 12 killed 12 militants in the Mohmand Agency, targeting Taliban’s hideouts. In addition, five persons were killed when shells missed targets and landed in civilian areas. SFs are reported to have targeted the militants’ hideouts in Alingar, Akhunzadgan, Sagi, Sheikh Baba, Sooran Darra, Guloona and Shandarra areas of Safi and Khewzai Baizai sub-divisions with helicopter gunships, artillery, tanks and other sophisticated weapons.
Pakistan Air Force jet fighters, on June 11, bombed suspected locations of Taliban militants in the Orakzai Agency in FATA and the adjoining Hangu District in NWFP, killing 33 persons, including the Sunni Supreme Council chief Maulana Muhammad Amin and his nephew, and injuring 29 others. The local officials, however, put the death toll in the two regions at 50, including women and children. The warplanes targeted militants’ positions in Mushti Bazaar, Mushti Mela, Ferozkhel, Sheikhan, Dabori, Ghiljo, Khadeezai, Shahuwam and Sultanzai. 26 people were reportedly killed and 13 others injured in the daylong bombing in these villages of Orakzai Agency. The warplanes also targeted a madrassa (seminary) run by prominent cleric and leader of the Sunni Supreme Council of Hangu and Orakzai Agency, Maulana Mohammad Amin, at Shahuwam Bazaar in Orakzai. Besides six other people, the Maulana himself and his nephew Hafiz Rashid Ahmad were killed and a few others injured. Maulana Amin had reportedly close links with militants.
The Army killed 22 Taliban militants during fierce clashes in South Waziristan, the ISPR said on June 11. According to reports from Waziristan, the fighting broke out when around 400 militants attacked the Siplatoi check-post and the Jandola Fort late on June 10, and continued for several hours. Three soldiers died and five were injured in the fight, the military said in a daily update in Rawalpindi. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, June 9-15, 2009.
Suicide bomber assassinates anti-Taliban cleric Mufti Sarfaraz Naeemi and six others in Lahore: Seven persons, including a prominent anti-Taliban cleric, were killed and seven injured when a suicide attacker detonated himself at the Jamia Naeemia madrassa (seminary) in the Garhi Shahu area of Lahore shortly after Friday prayers on June 12, 2009. Daily Times reported that in targeting Sarfaraz Naeemi, the head of Jamia Naeemia, the terrorist reportedly waited until the anti-Taliban cleric had reached his office before launching the attack. Six people were with Naeemi in his office at the time. Naeemi’s brother Muhammad Tajwar told AP the cleric had recently received death threats for condemning the Taliban, but had refused the offer of Police protection. According to The News, Naeemi was one of those moderate clerics who believed in maintaining sectarian unity to counter terrorism, and was among those clerics who had issued the edict declaring suicide attacks against the Muslims and civilians as Haram (forbidden). Daily Times; The News, June 13, 2009.
Osama bin Laden hiding in Pakistan, says CIA: The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Leon Panetta said on June 11, 2009, that the US intelligence agency believes Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan, and hoped joint operations with Pakistani forces would find him. Asked whether he was sure that Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan, Panetta told reporters, "The last information we had, that’s still the case." Finding Laden is "one of our major priorities", said Panetta. "One of our hopes is that the Pakistanis move in militarily, combined with our operations, we may be able to have a better chance" to find the Al Qaeda leader, he said. Panetta also asserted that al Qaeda "remains the most serious security threat", adding that there are "a number of people" on the ground in Pakistan providing intelligence on al Qaeda targets to the US. Daily Times, June 12, 2009.
17 persons killed in truck bomb explosion at Hotel Pearl Continental in Peshawar: A massive truck bomb explosion at the five-star Pearl Continental hotel in Peshawar, the NWFP capital, on June 9, 2009 killed 17 people and injured 60 others. The attackers entered the compound on two vehicles at about 10:30pm, firing at the security guards at the hotel gate with bullets from one and blowing up the other in the hotel parking. "It was a suicide attack," Capital City Police Officer Sefwat Ghayur told AFP. "There are two foreigners among the dead," NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said. Among those who were injured are the ruling Awami National Party’s minister Zarshed Khan, Senator Nabi Bangash, UN officials, three foreigners and an airline’s crew. 40 vehicles parked in the compound were destroyed and the building was seriously damaged. A Bomb Disposal Squad official told reporters at least 500 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack. Daily Times; The News, June 10, 2009.