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India-Pakistan
Suicide attacks hits anti-Taliban militia
2010-03-30
[Dawn] Suicide bombers targeted anti-Taliban militiamen in northwest Pakistan on Monday, killing three people and wounding another 10 in twin attacks, officials said.

A suicide bomber walked into the office of a militia in Tank, a district of North West Frontier Province -- parts of which suffer heavily from militancy -- and blew himself up shortly after an anti-Taliban meeting.

"One volunteer was killed and two others wounded. It was a suicide attack,"Liaqat Ali, a police official in Tank, told AFP by telephone.

An intelligence official in Peshawar confirmed the incident, saying the office belonged to Qari Misbahhuddin, brother of Qari Zainuddin, a late rival of former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.

Qari Zainuddin was shot dead by assassins in the northwest in June 2009, while Mehsud was killed in a US missile strike last August.

In the far north of Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt, a second suicide attack killed two tribesmen including an elder who headed another anti-Taliban private militia in Mamoond town in the district of Bajaur.

"Two people including Malik Taj Mohammad were killed and eight were injured in this incident. It was a suicide attack," Iqbal Khatok, a senior administrative official, told AFP by telephone.

"Malik Taj Mohammad was heading a lashkar against Taliban in Mamoond,"Faramosh Khan, another administrative official in the area, told AFP.
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India-Pakistan
Anti-Baitullah militant leader Turkistan Bhittani surrenders
2009-09-20
[Dawn] Anti-Baitullah militant leader Turkistan Bhittani has surrendered to the authorities in Tank along with several hundred fighters. Bhittani said that he had been requested by the government to stop fighting.

Speaking to DawnNews Turkistan Bhittani said that he had more than 5,000 armed activists fighting militancy in the area along with the security forces.

He said that the authorities had asked his group to give up their armed struggle against the Taliban and therefore the group had decided to surrender their weapons to the authorities.

Turkistan Bhittani said that more than 500 fighters had laid down their arms while other members of the group would disarm gradually.

Bhittani said that his militia had been fighting the militants and terrorists in the interest of the country. Turkistan Bhittani and the slain Qari Zainuddin had formed an alliance to fight the Baitullah Mehsud led Taliban.

Unconfirmed reports say that recently the Bhittani-led group had offered peace talks to the Baitullah-led group which was perhaps the main reason behind disarming the group.--
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India-Pakistan
Pakistan: Taliban attack signals change of tactic
2009-06-30
[ADN Kronos] By Syed Saleem Shahzad - Pakistani Taliban leader Gul Bahadur, once an arch rival of Baitullah Mehsud, apparently shelved a ceasefire agreement with security forces when he and his militants attacked a military convoy killing two officers and 12 soldiers at the weekend.
But shelving them when they become inconvenient is what hudnas are for.
Militants claimed to have killed 60 personnel in the attack carried out in Miran Shah area of North Waziristan.

"There was no reason for the attack. The military was not conducting any operation so there was no reason for such an attack," said Major General Athar Abbas, spokesperson for the Pakistan Army at a media conference late on Monday in Islamabad.
Pakistani minister information Qamaruzaman Kaira was also present and explained the government policies.

He denied that there was a military operation in either North or South Waziristan to rival what the military was doing in the northwestern Swat valley. "The military operation called Raye Rasat in South Waziristan is only aimed to establish the writ of the government it is not against any commander, tribe or the area," Athar Abbas maintained. "It should be borne in mind that the operation in South Waziristan was only aimed against the people who are a source of terrorism in the entire country and they are brutally killing the people of security forces," federal minister Kaira added.

However, the Sunday attack showed that this is not what the militants believe.

Pakistani security forces had tried to take the anti-Baitullah Mehsud warlords into their confidence. Two little known commanders, Qari Zainuddin and Haji Turkestan, vowed to support the government. But Qari Zainuddin, who could barely muster a few dozen fighters to combat Baitullah Mehsud, was assassinated last week. He could not get even get a burial plot in his home town and Haji Turkestan's whereabout are unknown since Zainuddin's assassination.

Gul Bahadur, the chief of Taliban in North Waziristan, and warlord Mullah Nazir, the chief of the Taliban in Wana, South Waziristan, were arch rivals of Mehsud even though they were sceptical of government moves against him.

The prevalent idea was that an operation against Mehsud could turn against all the Taliban groups. So Mullah Nazir was the first who refused to give passage to the army and warned that he would not tolerate the military presence in or around his area. Although Bahadur had expressed similar views to Naziran, an attack launched by Bahadur's militants aginst the army convoy on Sunday showed that ideological connections overrode tribal differences. The attack also indicates that all the Taliban commanders are united against the military.

Well-placed sources in the military establishment believe that Sunday's attack could have a far-reaching effect and could threaten the military operation's success.
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India-Pakistan
Tarkistan Baitni to 'continue Zainuddin's mission'
2009-06-25
Taliban commander Tarkistan Baitni has said he would continue assassinated commander Qari Zainuddin's mission to pursue Baitullah Mehsud, a private TV channel reported on Wednesday.

According to the channel, Baitni was addressing the gathering at the funeral of Qari Zainuddin. He said he had parted ways with Baitullah because the latter started to carry out suicide attacks on Pakistani civilians. Baitni said a meeting would soon be called to announce Zainuddin's successor.

Separately, Mehsud's men attacked an office of Baitni in Tank, but no casualties were reported. Also in Tank, two Taliban were killed and one injured in a clash between fighters of Baitullah and Abdullah Mehsud, the channel said. It said security forces had cordoned off the area and started an operation against the Taliban.
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India-Pakistan
Baitullah Mehsud's 'deputy' claims Zainuddin's killing
2009-06-25
A man calling himself a deputy of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud told AFP on Wednesday that his commander had ordered the killing a day earlier of a key tribal rival. Qari Zainuddin -- a young rising tribal leader who was increasingly critical of Baitullah's use of suicide bombings targeting civilians -- was shot dead at a house in Dera Ismail Khan early on Tuesday. "We killed Qari Zainuddin because he was a traitor, he was killed on the orders of Baitullah," said Waliur Rehman, who called an AFP reporter in Peshawar from an unknown location. "Anyone who works against us will face the same fate," he added. Zainuddin spilt from the TTP about nine months ago.
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India-Pakistan
Qari Zainuddin laid to rest in DIK
2009-06-25
[Geo News] Qari Zainuddin, rival of Baitullah Mehsud has been laid to rest in Dera Ismail Khan, Geo News reported Wednesday.

Earlier, his body was brought here from Abbotabad for burial. His body was put in CMH Abbotabad in view of security apprehensions.

In the morning, the body was taken to his uncle Maulvi Sher Muhammed's house situated in Jangi Saeedan here, where his (Qari's) wife, mother and other family members cast a last glance at his face.

In the meantime, the secret security agency's personnel put security cordon around the area. Later on, his body was transported to Frontier Force Regiment Center by an ambulance.

After security clearance, his body was moved to Dera Ismail Khan, where he was laid to rest in Chah Syed shah Munawwar Graveyard near Madina Colony.

During the burial, police continued strict security cordon around the areas.
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India-Pakistan
Zainuddin gunned down in northwest Pakistan
2009-06-23
A Taliban faction leader who was seen as the chief rival to the militant group's Pakistani head was fatally shot Tuesday, reportedly by one of his own guards. The attack on Qari Zainuddin appeared to be a sign that divisions within the Taliban have broken into the open as they come under military assault. The army is clearing out militants from the Swat Valley and has been pounding strongholds of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in the South Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan in apparent preparation for a major offensive.

Elsewhere in the area, three suspected U.S. missiles hit a reported Taliban training center Tuesday, killing at least seven people, according to two intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to media. They said the attack was believed to have been carried out by unmanned drones in the village of Najmarai, in the Makeen area of South Waziristan. Dozens of such targeted strikes have been carried out in the tribal regions over the last year.

Zainuddin was gunned down in the nearby town of Dera Ismail Khan. He had emerged as Mehsud's chief rival and had criticized the militant leader over attacks that killed civilians. Dr. Mahmood Khan Bitani told The Associated Press that he pronounced Zainuddin dead on arrival at a local hospital with gunshot wounds to the head and chest.
"He's dead, Jim"
Baz Mohammad, an aide to the militant leader who also was wounded, said a guard barged into a room at Zainuddin's compound after morning prayers and opened fire. He accused Mehsud of being behind the attack. "It was definitely Baitullah's man who infiltrated our ranks, and he has done his job," Mohammad told AP, vowing Dire Revenge™ to avenge the death. He later filed a criminal complaint with police, alleging the shooting was carried out at Mehsud's behest. A spokesman for Mehsud could not immediately be reached to respond to the accusation.

Bahawal Khan, the area police official, confirmed the slaying, as did Sher Mohammad, an uncle of Zainuddin. Aides said the guard had gotten closer to Zainuddin about four months ago. He fled after the attack in a waiting car, they said. Mahmood Shah, a former top security official, said the slaying sends a strong message to the government that they need to launch a strong, comprehensive operation to eliminate Mehsud, described as the center of gravity for much of the terrorist activity in Pakistan. Instead, Shah said, they have relied on "local efforts" by Mehsud's opponents like Zainuddin. "Baitullah Mehsud has overcome all tribal dynamics. He has resources, funding and a fighting force to strike anywhere in Pakistan," Shah said, calling him a front man for al-Qaida. "You simply can't eliminate him through local efforts; instead, you need a major force."

Zainuddin was estimated to have about 3,000 armed followers in Dera Ismail Khan and nearby Tank. Earlier this month, he denounced Mehsud for recent attacks that have killed civilians -- apparently launched in retaliation for the army offensive in the northwestern Swat Valley. "Whatever Baitullah Mehsud and his associates are doing in the name of Islam is not a jihad, and in fact it is rioting and terrorism," Zainuddin told the AP after a mosque suicide bombing attack, blamed on Mehsud, killed 33 people. "Islam stands for peace, not for terrorism."

Zainuddin's motive for criticizing Mehsud was not clear, but there was speculation that he was trying to portray himself as a more moderate alternative to the Taliban leader, although there appeared to be little or no differences between the two over fighting U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
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India-Pakistan
Why does Zainuddin want to kill Baitullah?
2009-06-22
[The News (Pak) Top Stories] The sudden projection and tall claims of an anti-Baitullah Mehsud militant leader from South Waziristan, Qari Zainuddin Mehsud, have created many questions in the diplomatic circles of Islamabad.

In interviews to various media organisations on Thursday, Qari Zainuddin and his deputy Haji Turkistan had alleged that Baitullah was an American and Indian agent, he had killed Benazir Bhutto and that the real Jihad was going on in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan. Many diplomats contacted Foreign Office and Interior Ministry officials as well as media persons, seeking answers to their questions. Some Western diplomats were particularly confused over the claim that Baitullah was an American agent and that he had killed Benazir Bhutto. These diplomats were asking a question that if Baitullah was involved in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, does that mean that the American authorities were also involved in the conspiracy.

An East European diplomat also asked that on one side President Asif Zardari visited the Nato headquarter in Brussels while on the same day the Pakistani establishment allowed Qari Zainuddin to speak to the media, defending Jihad against Nato troops in Afghanistan.

Qari Zainuddin had claimed in an interview that he had developed differences with Baitullah after the death of Abdullah Mahsud. However, the story of the real differences between the two is full of allegations and revelations. According to some sources very close to Qari Zainuddin, the Pakistani establishment wanted to kill Abdullah Mehsud because he was involved in the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers. The establishment hired the services of Baitullah in 2005 against Abdullah, who had spent 23 months in Guantanamo. Abdullah was finally killed on July 24, 2007 in Zhob. Close aides of Abdullah alleged that Baitullah had helped security forces in tracing him. One Masoodur Rehman Mehsud had once alleged that Baitullah had killed Abdullah. In the meantime, Baitullah killed Masoodur Rehman through a remote control bomb in South Waziristan.

These tribal elders see no difference between Baitullah and Zainuddin. They fear that the establishment had first used Baitullah against Abdullah, and now they were using Zainuddin against Baitullah and ultimately both of them would be killed.
Qari Zainuddin is the elder son of Masoodur Rehman Mehsud and he has decided to take revenge for the murder of his father.

He is heading the Abdullah Mahsud Group. He is a former Khasadar (member of the tribal police) and active in Shakai area of South Waziristan. He killed Yahya, the younger brother of Baitullah Mehsud, on October 27, 2008 in Bannu. In retaliation, Baitullah killed a close aide of Qari Zainuddin, Muhammad Yousuf, on October 29, 2008 in Tank area.

Zainuddin recently contacted some Mehsud tribal elders but most of them are reluctant to cooperate with him. They question that if Abdullah was killed by Pakistani security forces then why the leader of his group was cooperating with the establishment? These tribal elders see no difference between Baitullah and Zainuddin. They fear that the establishment had first used Baitullah against Abdullah, and now they were using Zainuddin against Baitullah and ultimately both of them would be killed. They also fear that Qari Hussain will replace Baitullah as the new Taliban commander.

Many Mehsud tribal elders were contacted by the political administration of South Waziristan, seeking help for Qari Zainuddin. One tribal elder had reportedly told an official of the administration: "Don't fool us. President Zardari is assuring cooperation to Nato and you are asking us to cooperate with a person who is asking us to go and fight Nato in Afghanistan".
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India-Pakistan
Mehsud faces threat from fellow tribesman
2009-06-20
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — A new Islamic militia leader has emerged in Pakistan to openly challenge al Qaida-affiliated warlord Baitullah Mehsud for the first time from within his own tribe, marking the start of a bloody confrontation in the wild Waziristan region that could have profound consequences for both Pakistan and the West.

In his first interview with a Western news organization, Qari Zainuddin told McClatchy this week that he'd wipe out Mehsud and rescue Pakistan from a reign of terror that has pushed the nuclear-armed U.S. ally toward collapse. Zainuddin charged that Mehsud, who is the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, had betrayed both his Muslim religion and the Mehsud tribe of his native South Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan.

"To fight our own country is wrong," said Zainuddin, in an interview given in a hideout on the edge of South Waziristan, surrounded by masked Kalashnikov-totting followers. "Islam doesn't give permission to fight against a Muslim country. This is where we differ. What we're seeing these days, these bombings in mosques, in markets, in hospitals; these are not allowed in Islam. We don't agree with them."

But victory will not mean any lessening of efforts to expel Westerners from neighboring Afghanistan, Zainuddin said. He pledged to send his forces into Afghanistan once Mehsud is vanquished.

"The whole Muslim world should come together because all infidels have come together against Islam. Whether it is Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Chechnya, Muslims must protect ourselves," said Zainuddin, who has the title of "Qari" or someone who has memorized the entire Koran. "The problem is that we cannot go to Afghanistan these days because we have had to deal with Baitullah."

Zainuddin, who described himself as "real" Taliban , reportedly has gathered as many as 3,000 armed followers and is being secretly backed by the Pakistan state against Mehsud's, who has a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head as a "key al Qaida facilitator." Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri, are thought likely to be hiding in the South Waziristan region controlled by the Mehsud tribe.

A cult of throat-slitting and suicide bombing marks Mehsud's grim rule. His group has staged spectacular terrorist attacks across Pakistan and has an extremist network that spans the tribal borderland that runs along the Afghan border and reaches deep into the country. On Saturday, Mehsud's commanders claimed responsibility for last week's devastating bombing of a luxury hotel in the north west city of Peshawar and the assassination of a prominent anti-Taliban cleric in the eastern city of Lahore.

Many believe that Mehsud can be defeated only by a member of his own clan. Zainuddin is a Mehsud and also he used to be part of Mehsud's network, giving him an intimate knowledge of its working and its members, a knowledge that the Pakistan army lacks.

Around a dozen Mehsud tribal chiefs, in separate meetings, told McClatchy that they supported Zainuddin but were afraid to speak publicly. Their fears were compounded by a deep suspicion of the Pakistani state and especially the army, which has made clandestine deals with Mehsud in the past.

"Not since the time of Alexander the Great have the Mehsud people suffered such slavery," said one tribal chief who asked not to be identified to protect himself. "We want to stand with Zainuddin but we don't trust the government. Three times in the past, they have made deals with Baitullah Mehsud. Generals have gone and eaten dinner with him. We are scared that the generals will make up with him again."

Zainuddin's private militia includes relatives of Mehsud's victims as well of some of Mehsud's own men who, Zainuddin said, are deserting. A powerful armed faction, known as the Turkistan group, which lives on the edge of South Waziristan around the town of Jandola, has already backed Zainuddin and currently provides much of his muscle, according to local tribesmen.
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India-Pakistan
Baitullah loses support in Waziristan
2009-06-09
[Geo News] Pakistani tribesman avenging a mosque attack surrounded two militant strongholds and destroyed the homes of some Taliban commanders, an official said Monday as the death toll in the fighting hit 13.

As many as 1,600 tribesmen have joined a citizens' militia in Upper Dir district _ an indication of rising anti-Taliban sentiment in Pakistan as the military pursues its offensive against the militant group in the nearby Swat Valley.

The militias, known as lashkars, were focusing on two villages known as Taliban strongholds, said Khaista Rehman, a local police chief. Officials said Sunday the tribesmen had managed to clear three other villages.

``An intense fight between the lashkar and the Taliban is still going on and the lashkar has destroyed 25 homes of Taliban commanders and their fighters in various villages,'' Rehman said. ``The Taliban had set up their offices in those villages but the local residents and the lashkar have attacked them, and we hope the lashkar will succeed.''

The attack on the mosque Friday left 33 worshippers dead and wounded dozens more during prayers, angering residents of the Haya Gai area of Upper Dir district, where minor clashes with local militants have occurred for months.

Including 11 militants killed over the weekend, the insurgent death toll reached 13 Monday, senior police official Nawaz Khansaid. Two tribesmen were wounded during Monday's fighting in the two villages.

The government has encouraged citizens to set up militias to oust Taliban fighters, especially in the regions that border Afghanistan where al-Qaida and the Taliban have hide-outs. But villagers' willingness to do so has often hinged on confidence that authorities will back them up if necessary.

With the army reporting advances against the Taliban in Swat _ an operation that also reaches into Lower Dir district and has broad public support that confidence appears to be growing.

Already, military officials say that as they've proceeded with the operation in Swat, local residents who have remained in the region have grown increasingly cooperative, providing tips on militants' hide-outs and more.

Also Monday, the leader of a Taliban faction at odds with Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud denounced Mehsud for staging attacks inside the country, a sign of rivalries within the collection of groups identified as the Taliban.

In a face-to-face interview with a foreign news agency, Qari Zainuddin urged tribal leaders to resist Mehsud and said his fighters, he claimed to have 3,000, would stay neutral if the army launches an operation in South Waziristan, Mehsud's stronghold.

``Whatever Baitullah Mehsud and his associates are doing in the name of Islam is not a jihad, and in fact it is rioting and terrorism,'' Zainuddin said. ``Islam stands for peace, not for terrorism.''

He insisted he would resist any U.S. attempts to attack Pakistan.
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