Concerns about the Taliban return in the volatile South Waziristan tribal region grow in the wake of two suicide attacks in a week on the security forces and a pro-government militant leader, which killed two soldiers and eight civilians.
Two soldiers were killed when they tried to blow up two suicide bombers, who were planning to ram their explosive-laden vehicle into a military camp in Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan early Wednesday, the military said.
Four more soldiers were injured in the incident in Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan, the military sources said.
“A suicide attempt was foiled early morning in Wana, South Waziristan when 2 suicide bombers in an explosive laden car tried to target Zarai Noor Camp,” the military sources told the media.
They said sentries on duty spotted the suicide at least 100 meters from camp and both suicide attackers were blown in the explosive laden vehicle.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP routinely claims responsibility for attacks on security forces.
Pakistani forces had conducted a major military operation in 2009 against the Taliban fighters led by Baitullahullah Mehsud, who was later killed in a U.S. drone strike. The security forces announced a victory in March 2010 after they cleared most of the areas of the militants.
Tribesmen say that nearly 300,000 people were displaced as the result of military offensive mostly in areas of Mehsud tribe. Several tribal elders have told The News Pakistan that only five percent of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have returned and others have preferred to stay away in view of the uncertain security situation, lack of facilities and slow reconstruction process.
Following the ground and air operations, the remnant TTP fighters either moved to remote mountainous areas or crossed into the neighbouring North Waziristan and parts of other tribal regions where some areas are still under the Taliban control.
The Wednesday’s attack occurred six days after a suicide bomber targeted a senior Taliban leader, Mulla Nazir, who had signed a peace deal with the government in 2007. Mulla Nazir injured in the attack in a busy marketplace while eight people, mostly local tribesmen were killed and some others were injured.
Although TTP spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, denied any involvement in attack on Mulla Nazir, it is widely believed that the TTP might be behind the attack. Mulla Nazir, who belongs to the main Waziri tribe in South Waziristan, had led a tribal ‘Lashkar’ against the Uzbek militants in Wana and nearby areas in 2007, the action promoted angry reaction from the TTP.
In reaction to the suicide bombing on Mulla Nazir, his Taliban supporters and the main Ahmadzai Wazir tribe ordered all the Mehsud tribesmen to leave Wana and adjoining areas by December 5 (Wednesday).
The TTP is not in a position to stage a comeback to its former strongholds in Mehsud areas in view of the presence of thousands of troops; their two suicide attacks have raised concerns about their activities. The attacks in areas under the control of Mulla Nazir group is also a matter of concern for the security forces as Hakimullah’s TTP had never been effective in Wana and adjoining areas.
Attack on Mulla Nazir has also heightened the traditional intra-tribal tension in South Waziristan as all Mesud IDPs and businessmen have been asked to quit the Wazir-dominated Wana. If Mulla Nazir group is serious in its announcements to expel the Mehsud tribesmen, the IDPs will suffer more. This is not a wise decision to displace the already displaced persons.