An Uzbek group that calls itself the “Mujahideen Ansar” claimed credit for today’s roadside bomb attack on a Pakistani military convoy in North Waziristan that killed 14 soldiers. The attack took place one day after the emir of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan called for jihadists in North Waziristan to cease fighting the Pakistani military and turn their guns on NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani soldiers were ambushed as they traveled on a road in the Ramzak area of North Waziristan, Dawn reported. Ramzak is close to the border of the neighboring tribal agency of South Waziristan, and hosts a large Pakistani military contingent as well as a military school. In addition to the 14 soldiers killed in the attack, 25 more were wounded.
A spokesman for the Mujahideen Ansar told Reuters that the group carried out the attack. The Mujahideen Ansar, which is said to be dominated of Uzbek fighters, claimed the attack was carried out to retaliate for Pakistani military complicity in the US drone campaign in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
US drones have killed scores of Uzbek jihadists and commanders, including the previous two leaders of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Abu Usman Adil, in 2012 and his predecessor, Tahir Yuldashev, in 2008. The US has also killed dozens of top leaders of al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the Punjabi Taliban, and other non-aligned Taliban groups such as the Haqqani Network, the Mullah Nazir Group, and the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group.
Today’s attack in North Waziristan occurred just one day after Hakeemullah Mehsud, the emir of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, ordered his forces in North Waziristan to halt attacks on the Pakistani military. He also appealed to foreign jihadists to quit their attacks on Pakistani forces. However, Hakeemullah’s order did not apply to Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan forces outside of the tribal agency [see Threat Matrix report, Hakeemullah Mehsud orders Taliban to end attacks on Pakistani military in North Waziristan].
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has waged a deadly insurgency against the Pakistani state, and has killed thousands of soldiers, policemen, government officials, and civilians in suicide attacks and military assaults since its establishment in 2007. By 2009, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan took control of most of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (then the Northwest Frontier Province) and advanced to within 60 miles of the capital of Islamabad before the military launched a counteroffensive. The group still controls large areas of the tribal agencies and maintains a strong presence throughout the province.
The Pakistani government considered the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan to be “bad Taliban” as they threaten the state. Meanwhile, groups such as the Haqqani Network, the Mullah Nazir Group, and the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group are considered “good Taliban” as they focus their efforts on maintaining control of their areas and attacking NATO forces in Afghanistan. The so-called “good Taliban” shelter top al Qaeda leaders and fighters, as well as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and other allied jihadist groups.
All four Taliban groups are part of the Shura-e-Murakeba, an al Qaeda-brokered alliance that was formed at the end of 2011. The members of the Shura-e-Murakeba agreed to cease attacks against Pakistani security forces, refocus efforts against the US, and end kidnappings and other criminal activities in the tribal areas. Despite the agreement, Hakeemullah and Bahadar’s forces have occasionally attacked Pakistani military units.