Taliban Leave Pakistan, but Afghans Repel Them

Taliban Leave Pakistan, but Afghans Repel Them
# 29 May 2010 04:45 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. After five days of fighting, the Afghan border police, supported by American helicopters, repelled a force of Pakistani Taliban who appeared to have crossed the border to try to carve out a new haven in Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province, according to Afghan officials, APA reports quoting “The New York Times”.
Meanwhile, in Paktia Province in southeastern Afghanistan, the Taliban ambushed a joint force of Afghan National Police and NATO soldiers, killing at least five Afghan police officers, provincial police officials said.
The attacks not only indicated that the summer fighting season had begun, but also provided a reminder of the permeability of Afghanistan’s rugged border, which is difficult for NATO vehicles to patrol but well traveled on foot and donkey by insurgents who know their way over the high mountain passes.
In Nuristan, the fighting in the Barg-e-Matal district ended with two border police officers dead, three wounded, at least three houses burned and at least 25 Taliban dead, said Gen. Zaman Mamozai, the head of the Afghan Border Police for the country’s eastern region.
An American military spokesman in Jalalabad, Maj. T. G. Taylor, confirmed that helicopters had provided some close air support overnight.
“Large numbers of Taliban” were involved in the fight, General Mamozai said. He estimated that more than 600 insurgents were in the area. He said they came to Barg-e-Matal from the Pakistani areas of Swat, Bajaur and Chitral and included Chechens and Arabs as well as Pakistanis.
Though it was impossible to confirm the presence of such a large contingent of Pakistani Taliban and fighters with Al Qaeda, the fighting underscored the difficulty of denying havens to militant groups when borders are so permeable. Many of the Pakistani Taliban and others appeared to have felt that they could no longer operate freely in some of their bases in Pakistan’s tribal areas because of military operations by the Pakistani Army, and so were apparently testing nearby areas where there is no little or no presence of NATO troops.
General Mamozai sounded pleased that his forces had received strong backing from Nuristani residents who apparently did not want the Taliban to take up residence in their area. Nuristanis, who speak a different language from the main Afghan languages of Pashto and Dari, have a reputation as clannish and wary of outsiders who attempt to move onto their territory regardless of their nationality.
“In this fight not only our Afghan forces took part, but even local villagers also helped us in fighting the Taliban,” General Mamozai said.
“Three houses of villagers were burned by the Taliban because the villagers were helping us during the fight,” he said.
He said he could not confirm the death of Maulana Fazlullah, a notorious member of the Pakistani Taliban, who was reported to have died earlier this week in the fighting.
In Paktia, the Taliban ambushed a joint NATO-Afghan patrol in the early afternoon in the Dandi Patan district, killing five Afghan police officers and damaging two of their vehicles, which generally have little protection against bullets, bombs and rocket-propelled grenades.
The Dandi Patan district police chief, Commander Wahab, was in the convoy and survived the attack, but was seriously wounded, said Ghulam Yaar, the security officer for the Paktia provincial police headquarters. Commander Wahab was taken to the nearby American-run Forward Operating Base Salerno for medical treatment.
The police in Khost announced Friday that the police chief of Alisher district, Jawar Khan, had died Wednesday of his wounds from a Taliban attack on May 20.
A NATO soldier died in southern Afghanistan early on Friday when an improvised explosive device detonated near him, according to a military statement.