Taliban leader targetted in suicide attack
A key Taliban leader, Mullah Nazir, was injured in a suicide attack in the Wana town of South Waziristan on Thursday. The attack, which killed six others, was confirmed by Nazir’s spokesman to Dawn.com.
According to the spokesman, Nazir was injured when a teenaged suicide bomber rammed his hand-cart packed with explosives into a vehicle carrying members of the Taliban leader’s group in Rustam Bazaar. Nazir survived the attack because he had already stepped out of the vehicle and was heading towards a building nearby.
Nazir is said to have a non-aggression pact with the Pakistan Army but regularly sends men to help the Afghan Taliban attack coalition forces stationed there.
No group had claimed responsibility for the attack till late on Thursday but the needle of suspicion points towards the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Uzbek terrorists of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who had been forced out of the Ahmedzai Wazir area of the tribal agency by Nazir. He also has a running feud with the TTP, which is both a turf war for control over South Waziristan and tribal rivalry. The TTP is predominantly Mehsud while Nazir’s group is primarily Wazir.
Since the Taliban itself is splintered, rivalries are commonplace and this is not the first time that Nazir has been targeted. The U.S. has also been targeting Nazir and his fighters with drone attacks.
PA has, for long, worked on a plan to engineer divisions among the TTP by playing upon clannish affinities, especially between the Mehsuds and the Waziris. So, they encouraged Waziris such as Maulvi Nazir Ahmed of South Waziristan (Ahmedzai Waziri)and Gul Bahadur of North Waziristan (Uthmanzai Waziri) against Baitullah Mehsud. The two Waziris formed an exclusive ‘Wazirir Alliance’ known as ‘Muqami Tehreek-e-Taliban’ to contain specifically the growing popularity of Baitullah Mehsud. While Baitullah Mehsud tactically withdrew from confronting them, he did not hesitate from taking on the other groups that opposed him in other places such as in Mohmand (where he eliminated one such pro-Government Taliban Commander, Khalid Shah in July 2008 and took control of that area).
When the PA launched Operation Rah-e-Nijat (the Path of Salvation) in June 2009 in South Waziristan, they targetted only Mehsud's strongholds and Maulvi Nazir (and Gul Bahadur) decided to remain neutral and not attack the PA or come to the assistance of Baitullah Mehsud. Maulvi Nazir Ahmed is close to the Kandahari taliban and like them sports a long kameeze. Maulvi Nazir also dislikes the Uzbek jihadis fighting under IMU Chief Tahir Yuldashev who were close to Baitullah Mehsud. So, the battle lines have been drawn for long between Maulvi Nazir on the one hand and the Mehsud branch of TTP supported by the fierce Uzbeks, on the other hand. Mullah Omar tried hard to bring them together, which seemed to work very briefly (when the three formed 'Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahideen’ in early 2009), but the unity fell apart soon. It is believed that the CIA drone that killed Baitullah Mehsud in his father-in-law's house in South Waziristan was possible due to coordinates given by Maulvi Nazir. Within two weeks of this assassination, the Mehsuds targetted Maulvi Nazir and it was even announced he was dead, but he survived.