The AfPak Reader

September 15, 2009

Mainlining Bill Roggio – Summer 2009 – Week 9 – Volume 2

Filed under: Enemy Profiles,Summer 2009 — huntingnasrallah @ 8:12 am

Mainlining Bill Roggio – Summer 2009 – Week 9 – Volume 2

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

South Waziristan Taliban groups clash – report
By Bill Roggio
August 16, 2009 12:56 PM

Taliban forces loyal to Baitullah Mehsud are reported to have killed 17 fighters loyal to commander Mullah Nazir during an ambush South Waziristan.

Baitullah’s forces are said to have carefully set up an ambush for Nazir’s fighters as their convoy moved towards Wana, the main town in South Waziristan and a stronghold of Nazir.

“They were hiding behind the rocks and, as soon as our people reached there, they opened fire,” Shaheen Wazir, a spokesman for Nazir told Reuters. “It was so sudden and quick that none of our men fired back.”

A spokesman for Baitullah Mehsud denied his forces ambushed Nazir’s men.

In the past, Nazir and Baitullah’s followers clashed over the presence of Uzbek fighters in South Waziristan, as well as over traditional tribal rivalries. Baitullah leads the Mehsud tribe, which is based in the western half of South Waziristan, while Nazir leads the Wazir tribe in the eastern half of the agency.

Both leaders have differed over jihad strategy. Nazir favors battling in Afghanistan, while Baitullah has favored taking on the Pakistani state. Both men host al Qaeda leaders and training camps, and both send forces to fight the US in Afghanistan.

Nazir and Baitullah settled their difference last February at the behest of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. The two Taliban leaders joined with North Waziristan’s Hafiz Gul Bahadar and formed the United Mujahideen Council and vowed to pool forces to fight the Pakistani state if the military moved into the tribal areas. The council also agreed to continue the jihad in Afghanistan and to strike at the US and India.

The clash between Nazir and Baitullah’s forces would be the first since the United Mujahideen Council was formed.

Separately, the military claimed it killed 15 of Baitullah’s fighters during artillery and airstrikes on Taliban strongholds in the Ladha region, including the town of Makeen.
Reports over the status of Baitullah and the state of the Pakistani Taliban have been confused as conflicting reports have been released by the government and the Taliban.

The Pakistani and US governments have been claiming the Taliban have been battling internally since Baitullah was purportedly killed during a US airstrike in South Waziristan. The Pakistani governemnt said two senior Taliban leaders who were vying for control over Baitullah’s leadership of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan killed each other at a meeting to choose Baitullah’s replacement.

The Taliban have denied Baitullah was killed and said no such meeting or a clash to choose Baitullah’s successor took place. The two Taliban leaders have since spoken to the media and confirmed they were alive. The Taliban have said Baitullah will release a tape to prove he is alive, but no tape has been released at this time.

Baitullah’s fighters have been clashing with a rival Taliban faction known as the Abdullah Mehsud Group, which is backed by the government. The Abdullah Mehsud Group is not part of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, but does send fighters into Afghanistan to fight NATO forces. Haji Turkistan Bhittani, a leader within the Abdullah Mehsud Group, is believed to be behind most of the reports of Baitullah’s death and the intra-Taliban fighting.
__________________________
Extended Notes (Roggio’s Links)
1) http://www.reuters.com/article/featuredCrisis/idUSISL418203

Pakistan Taliban faction kills 17 rivals in ambush
Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:54am EDT

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Aug 16 (Reuters) – Militants loyal to Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban leader believed to have been killed in a U.S. missile attack, have killed 17 fighters from a rival faction in an ambush, Taliban and intelligence officials said on Sunday.

Western governments with troops fighting in Afghanistan will be heartened by the latest sign of rifts among Pakistani Taliban factions since Baitullah Mehsud was killed.

The Mehsud clansmen ambushed vehicles carrying men from Maulvi Nazir Wazir’s group in South Waziristan, a tribal region on the border with Afghanistan, late on Saturday night.

“They were hiding behind the rocks and, as soon as our people reached there, they opened fire. It was so sudden and quick that none of our men fired back,” Shaheen Wazir, Maulvi Nazir’s spokesman, told Reuters by telephone.

An intelligence officer in the region said the attackers also fired rocket-propelled grenades at the pick-up trucks carrying the Wazir fighters towards Wana, the main town in South Waziristan.

A resident saw militants carrying some of the dead bodies into Wana after the attack.

The Mehsud and Wazir tribes are the two dominant clans in a region long seen as a safe haven for the Taliban and al Qaeda.

While Baitullah Mehsud’s main focus was on fighting the Pakistani government and security forces, Maulvi Nazir’s group has been heavily involved in the insurgency over the border in Afghanistan.

The attack on Maulvi Nazir’s fighters is more significant than earlier clashes between Baitullah Mehsud’s fighters and men led by two other militant commanders, Turkistan Bitani and Misbahuddin Mehsud.

In March, Baitullah Mehsud had forged an alliance with Maulvi Nazir and a commander in North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

Pakistani and U.S. government officials are sure that Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a missile strike from a U.S. drone aircraft on Aug. 5. Taliban officials have denied this, but have not offered any evidence to the contrary.

(Reporting by Alamgir Bitani; Writing by Kamran Haider; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Kevin Liffey)

 

2) http://www.geo.tv/8-16-2009/47693.htm

GEO Pakistan
Forces kill 15 militants in SWA
Updated at: 0200 PST, Sunday, August 16, 2009

WANA: At least fifteen militants were killed and many sustained injuries during security forces’ action against Taliban here in tehsil Ladha of South Waziristan Agency (SWA) on Saturday, Geo news sources said.

Forces also succeeded to shell militants’ suspected hideouts during separate actions in different SWA tehsils, sources claimed.

According to sources, the major operations against Taliban were carried out in Makin and Kandao localities of tehsil Ladha of SWA wherein, security forces bombarded several suspected militants’ sanctuaries.

Subsequently, 15 militants perished while many others were injured and their hideouts located in different areas were shattered.

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