Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Pak Taliban flexes its muscles in FATA

TTP warning leaflet distributed in Tank last week
An article on the website of the FATA Research Centre says that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has started a campaign against tribal elders and peace committee members who are opposed to them in different parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). It says that more than 20 pro-government tribal elders and members of tribal lashkars (militias) have been killed in Bajaur alone in the last two months, forcing many to reconsider their decision to support the security forces in the area.
TTP militants have also begun to kill the leaders of the Abdullah group, the only anti-TTP group based in Tank and Dera Ismail Khan districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkwha. The Abdullah group has been successful in keeping the TTP out of these areas for the last two years. But on 25 October Shahad u Din Burki, head of the Abdullah Group in Tank was gunned down. Later the same date another member of the group, Asmatullah Mahsud, was also shot dead. The TTP later distributed leaflets in the area warning people not to work for the government.
Contractors working for the government on road construction in South Waziristan have also been targetted by the TTP, including Faizullah Bhittani - whose son was killed - and Saboor Bhittani, both from the Tank district.
There are also serious problems in Orakzai agency, which the army has claimed on numerous occasions to have cleared of militants. The News reports that parts of Upper Orakzai are still a stronghold of the TTP and that several hundred Pakistani and foreign fighters control an area of 25 square kilometres in this mountainous region. From here they can easily move from Mamozai either towards Kurram and the border with Afghanistan, or towards the Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency. The TTP fighters recently showed their contempt for local security forces when on 11 October they subjected the governor of Orakzai Agency, Syed Masood Kausar, to a rocket attack that killed a boy and injured nine officials.
So bad has the situation become that Salamat Khan Orakzai, head of the pro-government Amn Lashkar militia announced this week that he was closing down their centre in Shahukhel village in Hangu district due to non-cooperation from the security forces and the government. Nine members of the lashkar have been killed in the last year and 13 others injured. “The government had pledged to provide us with arms and ammunition but it could not deliver on its promise. We cannot continue battling the militants on our own,” said Salamat Khan Orakzai.

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