April 23, 2010 | FDD’s Long War Journal

Taliban ambush military convoy in North Waziristan, kill seven soldiers

The Taliban killed eight Pakistani Army soldiers in an ambush on a military convoy in North Waziristan, in direct violation of a peace agreement signed with the government last year. The Taliban took credit for the attack.

The ambush took place near the village of Boya as the military convoy was on “a routine movement from Miramshah to Datta Khel,” according to a statement released by the Inter Services Public Relations, the military's public affairs office.

Two officers were among those killed in the ambush. Sixteen soldiers were wounded, two critically, and four vehicles were destroyed in the well-planned attack.

“It was a pre-planned attack,” a Pakistani intelligence official told Dawn. “Dozens of militants first fired several rockets and then used other weapons and guns.”

The Taliban released a statement accepting responsibility for the attack and said it was carried out to avenge the murder of a child by Pakistani troops. “The Taliban and natives from that village together took revenge for this incident and attacked the convoy soon after,” the statement read, according to AKI. The Taliban claimed 20 soldier were killed and another 12 fled.

The town of Boya is in the Datta Khel region, a known Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold. The US struck at a Taliban target in Boya on April 12, killing five Taliban fighters. The Datta Khel region has been the target of 11 of the 128 US airstrikes against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan. One of al Qaeda's top leaders, Abdullah Said al Libi, the commander of the Lashkar al Zil or Shadow Army, and Zuhaib al Zahibi, a senior military commander, were killed in the Dec. 17, 2009, swarm attack in the Datta Khel region in North Waziristan.

Today's ambush in North Waziristan will place a strain on the peace agreement signed between the Pakistani military and Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the top Taliban leader in North Waziristan.

During the summer of 2009, just prior to launching a military operation against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in the Mehsud tribal areas in South Waziristan, the military agreed to a peace deal with Bahadar as well as with Mullah Nazir, the Taliban commander in the Wazir tribal areas of South Waziristan. Bahadar and Nazir are not members of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Nazir, Bahadar and the Haqqani Network, which is also based in North Waziristan, are considered 'good' Taliban by the Pakistani government and military.

The peace agreement allows for the Pakistani military to move through Nazir and Bahadar's tribal areas without being attacked. Another condition of the agreement prohibits Bahadar and Nazir from providing shelter to fleeing members of the Mehsud branch of the Taliban.

Bahadar, Nazir, and the Haqqanis are providing shelter to fleeing Taliban fighters and covert support to the Mehsud Taliban. They also continue to harbor al Qaeda leaders and fighters and other South and Central Asian jihadist outfits who conduct attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as against targets in the West.

Despite these attacks, powerful elements within Pakistan's military and intelligence services still view the Haqqani family and the groups led by Hafiz Gul Bahadar in North Waziristan and Mullah Nazir in South Waziristan as 'good Taliban,' as these groups do not overtly threaten the Pakistani state. The Haqqanis, Bahadar, and Nazir do not advocate attacks against the Pakistani military and government. Pakistan's elites view them as their strategic depth against India and in Afghanistan in the event of a US pullout.

Also today, the Taliban killed four “US spies” in Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan. Two Afghans and two local tribesmen were murdered and their corpses were desecrated. Two of the bodies were beheaded, while a note found near the bodies said that “all those spying for the US and Pakistan will suffer the same fate,” Dawn News reported.

The Taliban have executed hundreds of tribal leaders as part of a campaign to maintain control of the Taliban's Islamic Emirate in Waziristan. Tribal leaders reluctant to support the Taliban, as well as people suspected of providing intelligence to Pakistani or US forces for the targeting of senior terrorist leaders, are routinely butchered in North Waziristan.