The AfPak Reader

September 15, 2009

Mainlining Bill Roggio – Summer 2009 – Week 10 – Volume 6

Filed under: Defense News,Summer 2009 — huntingnasrallah @ 7:22 pm

Mainlining Bill Roggio – Summer 2009 – Week 10 – Volume 6

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/08/suicide_bomber_kills_11.php

Suicide bomber kills 22 border guards at Torkham crossing in Pakistan
By Bill Roggio
August 27, 2009 1:27 PM

A Taliban suicide bomber killed 22 Pakistani border guards at the main crossing to Afghanistan in the first attack since Hakeemullah Mehsud took command of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The new leader of the Pakistani Taliban made good on yesterday’s threat to retaliate for the death of the group’s former leader, Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US airstrike on Aug. 5.

A teenaged suicide bomber directly targeted border security forces as they gathered for the Iftar meal at their barracks at the Torkham crossing in the Khyber tribal agency.

“The guards were about to break their fast when a teenaged boy carrying a bottle of Pepsi walked toward them and blew himself up,” a witness to the attack told Reuters.

While no group has claimed credit for the attack, Taliban forces under the command of Hakeemullah are the prime suspect. Between November 2008 and April 2009, Hakeemullah’s fighters destroyed more than 700 vehicles and shipping containers in Khyber and Peshawar, and forced the closure of the Khyber Pass six times.

Just yesterday Hakeemullah threatened to avenge the death of Baitullah, and specifically mentioned the United States as the primary target.

“We will take revenge and soon,” said Hakeemullah, who was chosen last weekend to lead the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. “We will give our reply to this drone attack to America.”

An attack at the Torkham crossing point would impact US and NATO operations in Afghanistan. NATO’s most vital resupply route for its forces in Afghanistan stretches from the Pakistani port city of Karachi to Peshawar, then on through the Khyber Pass to Kabul. More than 70 percent of NATO supplies and 40 percent of its fuel moves through Peshawar.

The US military has dismissed the attacks in Peshawar and Khyber as inconsequential, but the growing Taliban insurgency in the Northwest Frontier Province, coupled with the assault on the supply lines, has forced NATO to seek alternative supply routes into Afghanistan.

Hakeemullah is also credited with several major suicide attacks and complex assaults in Pakistan under the guise of the commander of the Fedayeen-e-Islam. Members of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Mohammed, al Qaeda, and the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas fill the ranks and leadership positions of the Fedayeen-e-Islam.

The Fedayeen-e-Islam took credit for the deadly September 2008 suicide attack on the Islamabad Marriott Hotel, the March 2009 storming of a police station in Lahore, and the June 2009 complex suicide attack on the Pearl Continental Hotel.
____________________________________
Extended Notes (AfPak Reader Link)
1) http://www.reuters.com/article/featuredCrisis/idUSLR235818

Suicide bomber kills 22 Pakistani border guards
Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:11pm EDT

* First big attack since Pakistani Taliban chief killed

* Missiles strike militant hideout

* Pakistan says determined to stamp out terrorism

By Ibrahim Shinwari

JAMRUD, Pakistan, Aug 27 (Reuters) – A suicide bomber killed 22 Pakistani border guards on Thursday in an attack at the main crossing point into Afghanistan, government officials said.

It was the first big attack in Pakistan since Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a U.S. missile strike on Aug. 5 and will raise fears that the militants, who officials say have been in disarray, are hitting back.

The bomber struck as the guards were sitting down at sunset to break their daily fast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“The guards were about to break their fast when a teenaged boy carrying a bottle of Pepsi walked towards them and blew himself up,” said Wakil Khan, a witness at the Torkham border crossing.

Nasir Khan, a senior government official in the Khyber region, said 22 people had been killed.

Pakistan has been hit by a series of suicide bomb attacks over the past two years, launched by al Qaeda-linked militants fighting the government because of its support for the U.S.-led campaign against Islamist militancy.

Security forces have cleared most militants from the Swat valley, northwest of Islamabad, in an offensive since late April, and have also been attacking Mehsud’s men in the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border.

Earlier on Thursday, two missiles believed to have been fired by a U.S. drone struck a militant hideout killing six fighters in South Waziristan, intelligence officials said.

NEW LEADER

The Taliban had been denying Mehsud’s death for weeks, but on Monday two of his aides, Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali-ur-Rehman, confirmed their leader had been killed.

Hakimullah, who led militants in the Khyber, Orakzai and Kurram ethnic Pashtun tribal regions, has been picked as the new overall commander of the Pakistani Taliban.

Security officials have been saying they were expecting reprisal attacks by Hakimullah’s men and Thursday’s blast in Khyber would appear to indicate he is determined to press on with the fight against the government.

Pakistani action against militants on its side of the border is vital for U.S.-led efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taliban are allied with the Afghan Taliban but Mehsud directed his attacks on Pakistani security forces.

Some Afghan Taliban factions, which have bases in lawless Pashtun lands on the Pakistani side of the border, have argued against attacks in Pakistan, saying all fighters should concentrate on expelling Western forces from Afghanistan.

Western governments with forces in Afghanistan are watching to see if a new Pakistani Taliban leader would shift focus from fighting the Pakistan government to supporting the Afghan insurgency.

Torkham is at the top of the Khyber Pass, through which a large amount of supplies for Western forces in Afghanistan, including much of their fuel, pass into landlocked Afghanistan.

Hakimullah Mehsud’s men stepped up attacks on convoys trucking supplies through the pass early this year, forcing the United States and its allies to look for new routes into Afghanistan, but their raids have fallen off in recent months.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said in a statement the attack at Torkham was a cowardly act and his government was determined to stamp out terrorism.

(Additional reporting by Zeeshan Haider and Almagir Bitani; Writing by Robert Birsel)
© Thomson Reuters 2009. All rights reserved

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