SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
While the progressive collapse in NWFP and FATA is well documented, the situation in Pakistan’s heartland, Punjab, and its emergence as a jihadi hub, has largely escaped attention. A deeper scrutiny indicates that the state of affairs in Punjab is, in many ways, precarious – and this will have far reaching consequences for Pakistan.
155 persons, including 92 civilians and 51 Security Force (SF) personnel, were killed in 104 terrorism-related incidents in Punjab during first half of 2009. The overwhelming proportion of fatalities comprised civilians and SF personnel, and just 12 terrorists, including nine suicide bombers, have died in the current year – a clear indication that the Taliban-Al Qaeda network is securing the upper hand. The extremists are also bringing the conflict to Pakistan's urban heartland, including the national capital Islamabad, Punjab’s provincial capital Lahore and the garrison town of Rawalpindi. Out of the 104 incidents recorded in the first half of 2009, nine were reported from Islamabad and 18 from Lahore.
Terrorism-related Incidents & Fatalities in Punjab - 2008 & 2009
*Data till July 1, 2009 (Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal)
Out of the total of 155 fatalities, 122 were killed and 595 others wounded in nine suicide attacks in Punjab during the first six months of 2009. Three of the suicide attacks in the province were orchestrated in Islamabad, two each in Lahore and Rawalpindi, and one each in Dera Ghazi Khan and Chakwal. Moreover, at least five 'potential suicide bombers' were arrested from Lahore on two occasions in 2009. On May 6, SFs arrested three alleged would-be suicide bombers from the Sabzi Mandi area of Lahore. According to a private TV channel, the three were identified as Abdul Aziz, Misri Shah and Qari Shahid. Again on May 15, SFs arrested three suspected terrorists, including two would-be suicide bombers, from Lahore. Further, the Punjab Inspector General of Police, Tariq Saleem Dogar, told a top-level meeting in Lahore on June 24, 2009, that 18 terrorists and suicide bombers had been arrested from the province, and suicide jackets recovered, over the preceding month and a half. In fact, 308 out of the total 324 fatalities in 2008 were caused by suicide attacks – an unambiguous indication of Punjab’s vulnerability. At the other end, the data also provides a glimpse into the extremist milieu, with suicide bombings orchestrated and suicide cadres recruited by the Taliban-al Qaeda combine, as well as by groups which remain Islamabad’s strategic assets, such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), which largely concentrate on India.
Suicide Attacks in Punjab, 2003-2009
*Data till July 1, 2009 (Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal)
At least 123 persons were killed and 641 were wounded in as many as 17 bomb explosions (including suicide attacks) triggered in Punjab in first six moths of 2009. Of these, three were reported from Islamabad and nine from Lahore. Another five bomb explosions were reported from Rawalpindi, Dera Ghazi Khan, Mianwali, Kundal and Chakwal. In addition, at least 358 militants were arrested across the province in the first six months of 2009, and many terrorist cells were neutralised.
Bomb Blasts in Punjab, 2007-2009
*Data till July 1, 2009 (Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal)
Amidst a welter of suicide and IED bombings and heightened subversion over the past two-and-a-half years, the state has been in constant denial, something that has come naturally to successive regimes in Pakistan. The standard assessment has been that these attacks are merely a ‘spill-over’ of the multiple insurgencies wrecking the Frontier and Tribal Areas, and that radical Islam cannot undermine Punjab. The establishment has held that, while there are numerous conflicts in other provinces accelerating Pakistan’s progressive collapse, Punjab’s Sufi-Barelvi Islamic culture is proof against any indigenous movement in the province. Such an assessment is, however, far from the deteriorating realities of the ground.
Out of the 35 Districts in Punjab, at least 26 are currently militancy-affected, in varying proportions. Apart from the urban space which the militants have consistently targeted and where they also maintain safe havens, there is also a great deal of subversion in the countryside. Considerable militant activity has been noticed in Dera Ghazi Khan, from where the radical clerics of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid hail. The swift growth of madrassas (seminaries) is reportedly encouraging Talibanisation in the remote areas of Dera Ghazi Khan Division. According to records made available to The News, over 400 new seminaries have been established during the last eight years in Dera Ghazi Khan, raising their total number to 600. The report indicated, further, that about 50 per cent of the population adhered to the Deoband sect, and are said to be Taliban sympathisers, and a "large number of youth belonging to these families… have taken part in what they term jihad." Sources indicate that militancy has augmented during the last couple of years in Punjab Districts such as Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Faisalabad, Jhang, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Lahore, Okara, Multan, Vehari, Sahiwal, Rawalpindi, Attock, Chakwal, Sargodha, Mianwali and Bhakkar. Militant activity in these Districts is linked both to conflicts in other provinces and the swelling terrorist networks within.
The infirmity of state response has led to apprehensions that a NWFP-like movement may emerge in Punjab in the proximate future. Delayed state response in the Frontier, in fact, actually allowed the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to consolidate and mount an enormous threat to Punjab (as well as Sindh). The Federal Government has reportedly put both Punjab and Sindh on alert amid mounting concern that the TTP is spreading south. Interior Minister Rehman Malik told The Financial Times in an interview published on June 26, 2009, that his department had analysed 1,148 terrorist threats in the country over the last four months alone. "Now, for example, we suspect something similar [to Swat] may arise in south Punjab. We are sharing the information with Punjab," he said, "You know Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Muhammad … all those people basically hail from that area. What we suspect [is] perhaps all those terrorists who fled from Waziristan or Swat might take refuge in south Punjab."
While Punjab as a whole has, for long, been one of the hubs of radical Islam, the locus is in South Punjab. Also known as the Seraiki region, South Punjab has a population of approximately 27 million, and comprises 13 Districts: Multan, Bahawalpur, Rahimyar Khan, Jhang, Layyah, Lodhran, Khanewal, Muzaffargarh, Bahawalnagar, Rajanpur, Bhakkar, Vehari and Dera Ghazi Khan. A New York Times report indicated that, in at least five towns in South Punjab, including Multan, barbershops, music stores and Internet cafes have reported receiving threats from the Taliban. Alarmingly, sources indicate that Al Qaeda has an unspecified number of sleeper cells in the madrassa network of south Punjab, which can be activated at a short notice to attack both state installations and foreign targets. While there is some substance in the growing belief among American officials and experts that the next terrorist attack against the United States is likely to originate from within the FATA, there is a distinct possibility that such an attack could, more plausibly, involve urban jihadis from Punjab's extremist environment. Along with the FATA and Malakand Division in the Frontier, South Punjab, on current indicators, is the most vulnerable region vis-à-vis the Taliban-Al Qaeda bloc. A Daily Times editorial on June 28, 2009 rightly notes:
The TTP, LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Hizb-ut-Tehreer, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and its armed wing, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), are the dominant terrorist groups operating in Punjab. While the lone terrorist arrested during the Mumbai attacks of November 26, 2008, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman alias Kasab, hailed from Faridkot village in the Okara District of Punjab province, eight of the nine who were killed during the attack were also from Punjab. Both the LeT and the JeM draw a majority of their cadres from south Punjab, including Multan and Bahawalpur, the latter of which is also the JeM headquarters. The LeT and its banned front, Jama'at-ud-Da'awa (JuD), have long maintained an open presence in places like the provincial capital Lahore and Muridke (approximately 40 kms from Lahore). Muridke is where the LeT is headquartered. Qudsia Mosque in Chauburji Chowk in Lahore is the Jama'at-ud-Da'awa headquarters.
On December 11 and 12, 2008, under relentless international pressure, authorities sealed 34 offices of the JuD across Punjab, Police sealed the group's offices in the south Punjab cities of Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur, Arifwala, Bahawalnagar and Khanewal. These sealed offices, however, represent no more than a tiny fraction of the large LeT presence across Punjab. The Punjab Government has appointed administrators in 10 JuD schools after intelligence agencies reported that these institutions were promoting extremism. At least 26 JuD educational institutions operate in various parts of the province. Before the crackdown, LeT leaders like Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, one of the many merchants of death in Pakistan, Abdur Rehman Makki, Abu Hashim and Ameer Hamza, were openly seen in Lahore. It is now abundantly clear that Pakistan’s crackdown on the LeT and terrorists like Saeed, Zarar Shah and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, despite the Government claims that these were an exceptional achievement, are a mere eyewash. Sources indicate that Saeed was, in fact, allowed to continue to operate as chief of the LeT/JuD even after being physically confined to his house. India’s National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan aptly stated, in February 2009: "They are house guests, at least Lakhvi and Zarar Shah are house guests. I don't know if it amounts to detention." A detailed examination of the evidence presented against the accused by prosecution in the Lahore High Court indicates that the authorities deliberately presented a weak case against Saeed in order to secure his release.
Groups like the LeT, with considerable state support, have, over the years, built an elaborate socio-economic infrastructure in Punjab, functioning as an alternative to the state, since the latter is unable to provide the needed social capital for an overwhelming proportion of the population. The worldview of groups like the JuD/LeT thus enjoys wide acceptability. Given the quantum of popular acceptance, the Punjabi dominated armed forces – themselves deeply ambivalent on this count – may find it difficult to confront the jihadis in Punjab, if subversion in the Province become unmanageable in the proximate future.
The outlawed Sunni sectarian formation, LeJ, which carried out the suicide attack on the Marriott Hotel on September 20, 2008, killing 60 people, also has a strong presence in Punjab, particularly in Gujranwala, Jhang, Multan, Lahore and Islamabad. It is pertinent to note that sustained state action over the years has failed to neutralise the LeJ. On the contrary, not only has it survived to continue its pogrom against the minority Shia community across Pakistan, it has also ominously evolved into a significant Al Qaeda affiliate, providing logistic support and at times even leading terrorist assaults.
Militants from Punjab are also fighting elsewhere in Pakistan. For instance, six men killed in a US missile strike on December 11, 2008, in Azam Warsak in South Waziristan, were found to be militants from Punjab. The NWFP Governor Owais Ghani warned Punjab on September 22, 2008, that militancy was gaining strength in its backyard: "Militants in the tribal areas of the NWFP have established firm networking (with jihadi groups) in southern Punjab and most fresh recruits for suicide attacks are coming from there. Militant leaders and commanders are also coming from Punjab. The militants’ field commander in Swat too is from Punjab." Ghani warned, further, "It will be ill-advised to think that the militancy will remain confined to the NWFP. Militants’ activities have already shifted to the settled areas and Punjab and they have established strong links with south Punjab. It's a national issue, a question of survival for Pakistan." A Pakistani security official was quoted as stating in Daily Times on April 15, 2009, that five to 10 percent of the militants in FATA could be Punjabi.
For years, militants from Punjab have been used as strategic assets for deployment in Afghanistan and India. Samina Ahmed, Project Director of the International Crisis Group’s South Asia Project, thus notes, "Owing to the support from long-established Sunni extremist networks, these groups are based primarily in Punjab and have served as the Army’s jihadi proxies in Afghanistan and India since the 1980s." It is only in the more recent period that tactical links with the TTP, Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda have led to the Punjabi jihadi fighting in the Frontier and Tribal Areas within Pakistan. The Punjabi Taliban or Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab has now begun to attack targets within Punjab. For instance, they claimed responsibility for the bomb-and-gun attack on offices of the Capital City Police Officer and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Lahore on May 27, 2009, in which at least 27 persons died and 326 were injured. Fearful of the fact that, in the near future, some in the jihadi enterprise may become renegades and target their erstwhile patrons, Islamabad has begun to consider pre-emptive measures.
However, two groups – the LeT and JeM (a small faction of which, led by Maulana Abdul Jabbar, has turned renegade) – remain steadfast strategic assets and have not faced adverse state action, irrespective of the regime type. The others present on the ground have, however, attacked cities and maintain a strong presence in the Punjab countryside.
Circumstances in Punjab are, at the moment, certainly not as bad as conditions in the Frontier or FATA. There is, however, an environment, as also the essential dramatis personae, for a Frontier-like scenario to emerge in Punjab. The TTP-Al Qaeda combine and other jihadi groups like the LeT and LeJ have, in fact, over the years, ably exploited the favourable circumstances prevailing in the region not only to build a strong and vast extremist network in Punjab, but also to escape adverse state action. In the absence of a situation marked by escalating militancy and widespread violence, military deployment in Punjab may not be a viable proposition. Crucially, it is not clear whether the Pakistan Army, which is dominated by Punjabis (estimated to approximately 65 per cent of the Force), will be keen on fighting their own.
While military deployment in Punjab will be considered in a worst-case scenario, it is the Punjab Police which is currently the lead agency in anti-terrorist operations. Police capacities are, however, known to be entirely inadequate to take on the Al Qaeda-Taliban combine. Punjab has the largest Police force in the country with strength of a 166,944 personnel (as on October 1, 2008) with an annual budget of PKR 43.22 billion (2009-10). 85 per cent of the strength consists of Constables and Head Constables and on an average one constable corresponds to 543 people (Source: Annual Report 2006 of the National Police Bureau), which is quite insufficient to meet normal policing challenges. Even the national capital, Islamabad, which has witnessed three suicide attacks in 2009 (20 in all since the first one on March 17, 2002) and significant militant activity in general, is not sufficiently secure. The Islamabad Capital Territory Police has jurisdiction over 13 Police Stations in the Islamabad Capital Territory, which is spread over 3,624 square kilometres. Its population, as per 1998, census was approximately 0.799 million, but is now estimated to be about 1.207 million. On an average, there is one constable for 873 people (Source: Annual Report 2006 of the National Police Bureau), which is acutely insufficient to meet routine policing needs.
The force, moreover, has a 20 per cent shortage of weaponry, according to Jawad Dogar, the officer in charge of logistics. Even on rudimentary necessities, the Punjab Police, which is arguably the best force among all provincial police forces, is reportedly struggling. It has a single Police laboratory and forensic investigations are almost unheard of, the Wall Street Journal reported on May 28, 2009. While it has never been trained to combat militancy, it is presently struggling to cope with the augmenting pressures of urban terror. Hussain Abbas, who served in the administrations of Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, notes that the Police is one of Pakistan’s most poorly managed organizations and that, "the primary reason for this state of affairs is the Government’s persistent failure to invest in law enforcement reform and modernization." According to Abbas, "the Manawan Police Training School [near Lahore; eight Police recruits and a civilian were killed when it was attacked on March 30], where 800 recruits are currently undergoing a four-month course in basic training, there are no beds or heating arrangements, only twelve toilets, and no provisions for showers. Even worse, no medical facilities are available and, according to a media report, 30 percent of the recruits routinely miss their training schedules due to illness."
However, the provincial administration is now gradually investing in capacity building. Reports in June 2009, for instance, indicated that the first quick response unit of the Punjab Police had completed training with the Pakistan Army. A batch of 122 Policemen from the Quick Response Force, trained to cope with terrorist incidents, have started working in two shifts in Lahore, The Dawn reported on July 3. In addition, short-term training courses to check suicide attacks and terrorism are underway at all Police training centres across the province, Punjab Police Inspector General Tariq Saleem Dogar stated at Lahore on June 25, 2009.
Apart from militancy-related issues, issues of deprivation and injustices, either perceived or real, which have been dormant for a long time, are also now gradually becoming manifest. For instance, the demand for a separate Seraiki province (a projected Seraikistan, essentially comprising South Punjab) which had been latent in the past, is now beginning to secure increasing articulation. While political elites and lawmakers are currently debating the possibilities of dividing Punjab into two entities, there is potential for some unrest on this issue due to its sensitive and emotive content, and also because of the generic chaos across Pakistan.
As disorder spreads in the other provinces of Pakistan, its heartland, Punjab, is bound to come under intense pressure in the immediate future.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
June 29-July 5, 2009
Maoists extort INR three billion annually in Chhattisgarh: The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) extort up to INR three billion every year in Chhattisgarh from traders of forest products, transporters and iron ore mining firms, said the Chief Minister Raman Singh. "Maoists extort at least Rs.250-300 crore (INR2.5-3 billion) annually and their extortion business runs from the State's southern tip of Bastar to the northern Surguja District," Singh told IANS. "They mainly extort money from traders of 'tendu' leaves, iron ore mining firms, small and big contractors and transporters," he added. Tendu leaves, which are used to make bidis (leaf-rolled cigarettes), are one of the most important forest products of the Bastar region, which is considered a hub of the Maoist insurgency. "The traders, businessmen, contractors and others who pay extortion money hardly have the courage to report it to the Police because of the fear of Maoists and their own business interests in the region," said Singh. The Hindu, July 4, 2009.
133 militants and 80 civilians among 220 persons killed during the week in FATA: Seven persons were killed and 12 others sustained injuries when missiles fired by jet fighters missed their targets, hitting civilian areas in Dattakhel in North Waziristan Agency on July 6. Further, three imprisoned militants were killed and two civilians sustained injuries when militants fired several rockets at the Bajaur Scouts Fort in Khar, headquarters of the Bajaur Agency. Separately, bodies of two volunteers of a tribal Lashkar (militia), who were abducted by the militants after a fierce clash in Fam Pokha area, were found in the vicinity of Ambar sub-division in the Mohmand Agency on July 5. In addition, a soldier was killed and another injured when the militants attacked an SF tank with a remote-controlled bomb in Shati Kor area.
Fighter planes and helicopter gunships, on July 4, heavily targeted suspected positions of militants in the Taliban-controlled Orakzai Agency, killing 26 militants a day after a military helicopter crashed in the area. Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas confirmed the bombing and said the action was taken as a reaction to the militant attack on SFs and a rescue team on July 3. He said the militants opened fire on the SF personnel and rescue team when they went there to retrieve bodies of the soldiers killed in the helicopter crash. In addition, 15 men of an armed tribal militia and three militants were killed when fierce clashes erupted in the Fam Pokha and Kharai Darra areas of Ambar sub-division in Mohmand Agency in the early hours of July 4.
13 persons were killed and seven others sustained injuries in a US drone attack in South Waziristan Agency, while eight persons died when fighter planes targeted a hotel in North Waziristan Agency on July 3. Tribal sources said a US drone fired three missiles at the office of Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud in Serwakai sub-division at 9 am, killing 13 persons present in the office and injuring seven others. In addition, an AP report stated that US missiles struck a training facility operated by Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud and a militant communication centre in South Waziristan Agency on July 3, killing 17 people and injuring 27 others.
A tribal militia attacked Taliban hideouts in the Kurram Agency on July 1, killing 28 militants and suffering seven fatalities themselves, and the intensifying battles prompted them to ask for Army troops to help, a local lawmaker said. The fighting in the remote Kurram region was the latest in two weeks of battles between militants and tribesmen there that have killed 141 people, including more than 100 militants, two Government officials said. Further, 28 militants, including an unidentified commander, were killed when helicopter gunships targeted the hideouts of the banned Lashkar-e-Islam in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency on July 1. Sources said that three helicopter gunships targeted the hideouts of the Mangal Bagh-led group in Sandapal and Akakhel areas of Tirah Valley. However, Lashkar-e-Islam spokesman Zar Khan denied any losses to his group. Tribal sources said the murder of Malik Guli Shah, a pro-government tribal elder in Jamrud, Khyber Agency, on July 1, was the immediate reason for the military action. Suspected Taliban militants had killed a pro-government tribal leader, his driver and two gunmen on July 1 while they were on their way to Peshawar, the NWFP capital. Three persons, including two women and a child, were killed and six others sustained injuries when military helicopters targeted Madakhel village of North Waziristan in the morning of July 1.
Seven suspected militants were killed as jets continued to shell their positions in North Waziristan on June 30. However, it could not be verified whether the dead were militants or non-combatants. Local people and sources said that planes had bombed militants’ hideouts in Wacha Bibi area, west of Miranshah, where terrorists had ambushed a military convoy and killed 27 soldiers on June 28. Ten militants were killed when troops returned fire.
21 Taliban militants were killed in overnight clashes with an anti-Taliban militia in Kurram Agency, tribal elder Ali Akbar Toori and lawmaker Sajid Toori said on June 30. Four militiamen were also killed. Further, four Taliban militants were killed as jet aircraft bombed suspected Taliban hideouts in South Waziristan Agency on June 29. The aerial attacks hit a guesthouse used by the Taliban at Kani Guram village. Meanwhile, four soldiers who had been injured in a Taliban attack on their convoy in North Waziristan on June 28 died in a military hospital, the ISPR chief Major General Athar Abbas said on June 30. In addition, SFs on June 29 claimed to have killed at least 13 suspected militants in attacks on their hideouts at Bazaar Zakhakhel area of Landikotal in the Khyber Agency, while seven members of a family were killed and four others injured when an artillery shell struck a Hujra (guesthouse) in the Sra Shaga area of Jamrud sub-division. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, June 30-July 6, 2009.
95 militants and 10 soldiers among 107 persons killed during the week in NWFP: Ten militants were killed in shelling by the Security Forces (SFs) in the Mangaltan area of Charbagh sub-division in Swat District on July 5, 2009. Further, three soldiers were killed and six others wounded while a few terrorists were arrested in the Malakand Division on July 5, according to the Inter-Public Services Relations. On the same day, Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP that the military had killed a commander loyal to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Swat unit chief Maulana Fazlullah on the outskirts of Mingora. Reports from Dir stated that two roadside bomb blasts in the afternoon of July 5 in the Serati area of Dir Upper District, killed two persons and injured 15 others.
SFs stated on July 2 they had killed 23 Taliban militants in various areas of Swat District over the preceding 24 hours. "The security forces consolidated their positions around Shah Dheri, where 17 Taliban were killed in a clash," said the ISPR in an update. In addition, five militants were killed during a search operation in Kanju and another was killed and two arrested when troops raided hideouts in the area around Miana, Ahingro and Baba Ziarat. Separately, two persons were killed and six others wounded when unidentified men lobbed a hand-grenade into a shop at the Ghass Mandi Chowk in Dera Ismail Khan on July 2. In another incident, armed men opened fire on the Khan Flour Mills, killing its owner Mohammad Tanweer. Two Policemen were killed and an equal number of people sustained injuries when Taliban targeted a Police vehicle with a remote-controlled device in provincial capital Peshawar on July 2. Further. the tribal militia in Doog Darra area of Dir Upper District on July 2 killed two militants, including a key Taliban commander Maulana Naeemullah, in fierce fighting.
SFs said on July 1 that they had killed five Taliban militants in a clash in the Bannu District. "The Taliban ... raided a checkpost near Hindi Khel in Bannu ... one soldier was killed and six injured, while five Taliban were also killed," said the ISPR, adding that a militia in Dir District had taken control of over half of Shatkas village. Elsewhere in the province, two persons were killed and three others sustained injuries when four rockets fired by the militants hit different places in the cantonment area of Nowshera in the Nowshera District in the early hours of July 1. Further, a roadside bomb intended to target a local Police chief's vehicle killed a passer-by on July 1 in Dera Ismail Khan. In addition, Police claimed to have foiled a sabotage attempt and defused three explosive devices planted in a car while one of the militants riding the vehicle blew himself up in provincial capital Peshawar on July 1.
SFs stated on June 30 that Taliban militants in the Biha Valley of Swat District had slaughtered 18 of their own injured comrades, as they could not be moved out along with the retreating militants. "It has been reliably learnt that during the clearance of Biha Valley, 18 wounded terrorists, who could not be taken to safety, were slaughtered by their own people on orders of their commanders," an ISPR statement said. Meanwhile, the SFs killed another 16 militants and arrested 23 others in Swat, while three soldiers died and eight others, including three officers, were injured.
SFs on June 29 claimed to have killed eight militants in the Khwazakhela area of Swat District. An ISPR statement said the SFs raided a compound in Khwazakhela, killing eight militants. Weapons and explosive devices were also recovered in the raid, it added. The ISPR statement also said the main command structure of the militants had been dismantled and that recruits have either been killed or driven away, ammunition dumps and their headquarters at Peuchar, Chuprial, Matta, Khwazakhela, Mingora, Kabal, Banai Baba Ziarat, Sakhra, Saidu Sharif and Biha had been destroyed. Elsewhere in the province, thousands of armed villagers in the mountainous Doog Darra area of Dir Upper District launched an intensified offensive against the holed up Taliban and killed two Afghan militants, besides torching 30 houses belonging to the Taliban and their supporters in Shatkas and Bar Doog villages on June 29. In addition, SFs on June 29 claimed killing two militants during a search operation in the Akhorwal area of Darra Adamkhel. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, June 30-July 6, 2009.
US imposes sanctions on three Lashkar-e-Toiba leaders: The United States on July 1, 2009, imposed sanctions on an Al Qaeda backer and three leaders of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), believed to be behind the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008. The US Treasury said it was imposing an assets freeze on the four, identified as Fazeelattul Shaykh Abu Mohammed Ameen Al-Peshawari, Arif Qasmani, Mohammed Yahya Mujahid and Nasir Javaid. Ameen Al-Peshawari allegedly provided assistance, including funding and recruits, to Al Qaeda and the Taliban currently fighting to regain control of Afghanistan. Qasmani is said to be the chief coordinator for the LeT and Mujahid was the head of the group’s media department. Javaid had allegedly served Lashkar’s commander in Pakistan. The Treasury said its action came two days after Al-Peshawari, Qasmani and Mujahid were added to a UN blacklist of individuals. Daily Times, July 2, 2009.
persons killed and 11 injured in first suicide bombing
in Kalat District of Balochistan: In the first-ever
suicide attack in a Baloch-populated area of Balochistan,
at least four people were killed and 11 wounded when
a bomber targeted a hotel in Kalat on June 30, 2009.
The attack in Kalat District appeared to be aimed at
disrupting supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan. The
bomber detonated his explosives inside a hotel in the
Sorab area of the District, 250 kilometres southeast
of provincial capital Quetta. Most of the victims were
reportedly Baloch tribesmen. Witnesses said the suicide
bomber, dressed in white traditional clothes, parked
his explosives-laden vehicle outside the hotel on the
Quetta-Karachi RCD Highway, and then went into the hotel.
When he blew himself up, the ensuing blast may have
served as a detonator for the explosives in the parked
vehicle. There may have been a remote control device
planted in the car, said Deputy Inspector General of
Khuzdar Police, Ghulam Rasool Domki. Reports from Sorab
suggested that the explosion occurred in a car that
was on its way from Quetta to Sorab. Daily
July 1, 2009.