August 28, 2008 | FDD’s Long War Journal
Fighting intensifies in Pakistan’s Northwest
The security situation in northwestern Pakistan continued to deteriorate as Taliban and government forces clashed in South Waziristan and Bajaur. The Taliban also conducted a successful attack on a police van in Bannu.
More than 70 Taliban and 11 police and soldiers were killed during the fighting, although the government has not reported casualties in Bajaur, where the fighting was the heaviest.
The Taliban conducted a successful strike against a police convoy moving across a bridge in Bannu. Six police and three civilians were killed after their vehicle struck a remote detonated improvised explosive device on the Kurram Bridge. Thirteen others were reported wounded, some seriously.
The bombing is the latest major strike against military, governmental, and civilian targets in Pakistan. There have been eight major attacks since Aug. 12. Taliban bombers have struck in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Wah, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat, and Bannu, killing more than 165 Pakistanis and wounding more than 220, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal.
After a relative period of quiet in South Waziristan, the Taliban have reinitiated attacks against Pakistani security forces in the area. The Taliban had observed a cease-fire but have threatened to discard the agreement in light of the fighting in Swat and Bajaur.
The Taliban reportedly lost 11 fighters during a company-sized assault on the Tiarza Fort and the Tiarza Bridge Checkpost just outside of Wana.
Additional fighting was reported in South Waziristan yesterday. Twelve more Taliban were reported killed after attacking a military convoy inside Wana. Two soldiers were killed and seven were wounded during heavy fighting.
A spokesman for Taliban leaders Hafiz Gul Bahadar and Maulvi Nazir denied their forces were involved in the attacks and placed the blame on Baitullah Mehsud's fighters. Nazir and Bahadar joined forces to create a separate movement outside of Baitullah Mehsud's Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
Heavy fighting has been reported in the Bajaur tribal agency, where the government launched an offensive to drive back the Taliban weeks ago. The government claimed more than 50 Taliban fighters were killed in separate clashes. The casualties could not be confirmed, and the military did not report taking any casualties during the fighting.
An estimated 30 Taliban fighters were reported killed after the military pounded a Taliban-occupied health center with artillery. “Security forces killed 25-30 militants, including some important commanders and foreigners in Bajaur's Raghan region,” a security official told AFP. The military claimed it intercepted Taliban communications confirming the casualties. Bajaur is an al Qaeda safe haven, and the region is used as al Qaeda's command and control center for attacks against Coalition and Afghan forces in northeastern Afghanistan.
The military claimed an additional eight Taliban were killed and 12 wounded during artillery and airstrikes in the Khar and Salarzai subdistricts. The Taliban control much of Khar because Frontier Corps retreated from the Loisam region after taking heavy casualties during an ambush on a convoy on Aug. 10. Another eight Taliban were killed and 10 wounded after government forces ambushed a Taliban convoy.