Pakistan Security Brief
TTP executes 21 captured policemen; 20 Shias killed in Balochistan bomb attack; Seven charity workers killed in Swabi; Pakistan frees more Taliban leaders; TTP spokesman comments on video message; Two soldiers, nine militants, several civilians killed in North Waziristan; Afghan warlord Hekmatyar denies links to Pakistani Taliban; TTP bomb attack targets MQM, kills four; Several dead in Karachi station blast, incidences of violence; DI Khan police arrest TTP, LeJ militants; Bombs defused in Peshawar; violence, shelling leaves several dead, wounded in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; Pakistani jets kill 14 civilians in Khyber attack; Pakistan delays MFN status for India; PM to see Bin Laden report soon; MQM distances itself from PPP; Pakistan re-blocks YouTube.
High-Profile Militancy in Pakistan
Taliban militants on Saturday executed at least 20 Levies personnel kidnapped during militant assaults on several checkposts on Thursday. Two of the men reportedly escaped and are in critical condition. A local official said the bodies of the slain men were recovered from a cricket field in Jabai, Frontier Region Peshawar, approximately three miles from where they were abducted. The men were reportedly abducted and executed by the Tariq Afridi group of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the same group allegedly responsible for killing two former Pakistani intelligence officers, Sultan Amir Tarrar and Khalid Khwaja, in 2010.
At least 20 Shia pilgrims were killed and 25 wounded in a bomb attack on their bus in Dringarh, Mastung district, Balochistan on Sunday. Three buses were on their way from Quetta to Shia holy sites in Iran when the convoy was attack by a remote-controlled bomb. No group has taken responsibility for the attack as yet. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a group responsible for previous attacks on Shias in Pakistan, reportedly maintains a strong presence in Mastung district.
Seven charity workers were shot dead by militants in Swabi district on Tuesday. Gunmen on motorcycles attacked the workers’ van with automatic weapons killing five teachers and two aid workers working for the Support With Working Solutions group which operates in South Waziristan and across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Six of the dead were women and hundreds of tribesmen turned out to bury the dead on Wednesday. Last month, militants killed nine anti-polio aid workers across the country. The group’s director said his organization may have been targeted in revenge for participating in polio vaccination campaigns. On Wednesday, an aid organization umbrella group demanded greater protection from the government following the spike in attacks on aid workers. 
A TTP bomb attack in Karachi’s Federal B Area killed four people and wounded over 40 on Tuesday. The bomb, planted on a motorcycle, went off shortly after a political rally held by the Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Minhaj-ul-Quran International (MQI) less than half a kilometer from the MQM’s Karachi headquarters known as Nine-Zero. TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan took responsibility for the blast, promising more such attacks and warning people not to attend MQM rallies.
Regarding a video released by TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud calling for the Pakistani government to adopt Sharia law and break relations with the U.S. as preconditions to talks with the TTP, the group’s spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan elaborated on Saturday that the video was meant to dispel impressions that there was a rift “between the TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud and his deputy Maulana Waliur Rehman.” Ehsan said “Maulana Waliur Rehman is the TTP leader for South Waziristan region and is sitting in the videotape with Hakimullah. I am also sitting in the video.” Ehsan also said his group was unaware of another offer for talks made by TTP commander Asmatullah Muawiya, but endorsed the offer if the government was serious about dialogue. Ehsan said the “Urdu-speaking Asmatullah Muawiya is the TTP leader in Punjab” and “wrote the letter to a Pakistani journalist in response to his article but some people [erroneously] thought it was a ceasefire offer [directly] from the [main TTP].”
Afghan Taliban Releases and Statements
Pakistan on Monday released four more senior Afghan Taliban prisoners as part of confidence building measures in ongoing Afghan reconciliation talks. Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, a former Taliban justice minister and relative by marriage of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, is the most prominent leader set free. Others released are Mullah Abdul Bari, a former governor; Mullah Allahadad, a former deputy communications minister; and Mullah Azam, a former guard to Mullah Omar. Mullah Baradar, the former Taliban deputy chief, remains in custody. The Washington Post reports that Pakistan freed eight prisoners on Monday.
Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar on Wednesday denied his group had any affiliation with the Pakistani Taliban and condemned the group’s role in blowing up schools. Unknown militants blew up a school in Dallokhel, Lakki Marwat district on Monday night. Two schools were blown up Akkakhel, Bara sub-district, Khyber agency on Sunday.
Militancy in Northwest Pakistan
Two soldiers were killed and two injured when their convoy was targeted by an IED in North Waziristan. The convoy was hit when it reached Boya from a post in Gherlamai on Sunday. No group has claimed the attack. Helicopter gunships shelled “residential compounds” after the attack. On Monday, the bullet-riddled bodies of nine TTP fighters were found on the side of the road in Peer Kaley village six miles east of Miram Shah, North Waziristan. Security officials claim they do not know who was responsible for the fighters’ deaths, but TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan issued a statement blaming the army for the killings and vowing to take revenge.
Police in Dera Ismail Khan arrested four militants belonging to the TTP and LeJ on Wednesday who confessed to taking part in sectarian bomb attacks in the district during the Muslim holy month of Muharram. Police seized explosive devices and materials and weapons. The men reportedly confessed to taking part in 11 different terrorist attacks. Local officials said the men received training in South Waziristan.
An IED attack on workers of the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) on the Miram Shah-Ghulam Khan road in North Waziristan killed one FWO worker and injured five others on Tuesday. Retaliatory fire from army gunships, artillery and armor targeting nearby villages reportedly killed two civilians and injured nine others. Maulvi Gul Ramzan, a commander allied with local Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur, said Bahadur condemned the army’s indiscriminate response to the attack and reiterated that local tribesmen were loyal to the state.
At least 14 people were killed when Pakistani jets bombed two houses in the Malik Din Khel area of the Tirah valley in Bara, Khyber agency on Monday. Locals claim that nine members of one family and five of another were killed in the strikes. A spokesman for Ansarul Islam, a local militant group, confirmed the death tolls. Military sources claimed the jets were engaging militant hideouts based on information alleging the presence of high-profile militant commanders.
An IED weighing around 150 pounds and planted outside the house of a tribesman in Achini Bala village near Peshawar was defused by security personnel on Tuesday. Security forces defused an IED near Miryan Police Station in Bannu district on Tuesday. An IED blast outside a cinema in Faqirabad, Peshawar on Sunday injured one person.
Tribal elders in Para Chamkani, Kurram agency on Tuesday handed over a wanted militant commander to government forces. The tribe had been given six days by the local administration to turn over Commander Noor Zaman alias Salib, a leader of the Tariq Afridi faction of the TTP or face collective penalties under tribal law.
A policeman was shot dead in Abbakhel village, Lakki Marwat district on Saturday. Elsewhere, three women were killed and six children were wounded when their homes in the Sepah area of Bara sub-district, Khyber agency were hit by mortar shells on Sunday. On Tuesday, two girl students at a seminary were killed and five others injured when a mortar landed outside their school in the Akkakhel area of Bara.
Militancy in Karachi
An explosion outside a railway station in Karachi on Saturday left six dead and 48 wounded. Police say they are investigating whether the blast at the Karachi Cantonment Station was caused by a bomb or an exploding gas cylinder.
Six people were killed in Karachi in various incidences of violence on Tuesday. Among the six killed was a policeman who was shot in the Metroville area. Two bombs were also defused in Orangi Town and near the Sindh Secretariat. Four people were gunned down in the Ayub Goth area of Sohrab Goth in Karachi on Monday. The killing of a political activist set off arson attacks and exchanges of gunfire in the Berzeta Lines area of the city on Monday. A cleric was killed by unknown gunmen on Shaeed-e-Millat road on Sunday. Unknown assailants carried out two grenade attacks in the Korangi and Mehran Town areas of Karachi on Saturday, but no casualties were reported.
Pakistan has delayed granting India Most Favored Nation (MFN) status and abolishing a “negative list” of tradable goods, Pakistan’s commerce minister said on Saturday. The delay is reportedly over the “reservations of various industries about protecting the interest of local manufacturers,” but was reportedly first cleared with India’s commerce minister. No date has been given for the implementation of the decision but Pakistan’s foreign secretary said that an “important meeting” was taking place in Islamabad on Monday regarding granting India MFN status.
The MQM and MQI leader Tahirul Qadri held a large rally in Karachi on Tuesday to gather support for a “million man march” to Islamabad on January 14 in order to protest the failures of the present government. In joining Qadri’s MQI in supporting the march call, the MQM appears to be distancing itself from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), its partner in the governing coalition. The PPP for its part has expressed “unhappiness” with the MQM’s decision to join the protest march.
The head of the Pakistani commission investigating the Osama bin Laden raid said on Saturday that the commission’s report is complete and would be sent to the prime minister’s office on Monday. The prime minister’s secretary denied, however, that the prime minister had any meetings scheduled with the commission’s head for that day.
Pakistan re-blocked YouTube on Saturday mere minutes after the website was unblocked when a filter to screen “blasphemous material” from being viewed on the site proved ineffective.
“21 Pakistan Tribal Policemen Are Found Shot to Death,” AP, December 29, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/world/asia/21-pakistan-tribal-policemen-are-found-shot-to-death.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0
Amir Mir, “Levies men executed by abductors of ex-ISI officers,” The News, January 1, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-151728-Levies-men-executed-by-abductors-of-ex-ISI-officers
Salman Masood, “19 Shiite Pilgrims Bound for Iran Are Killed in Pakistan,” New York Times, December 30, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/31/world/asia/bomb-kills-at-least-19-shiite-pilgrims-in-pakistan.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
Inam ur Rehman, “Pakistanis bury slain teachers, aid workers,” AP, January 2, 2013. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/pakistanis-bury-slain-teachers-aid-workers-112941167.html
“Aid groups demand greater protection after Swabi attack,” AFP, January 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/02/aid-groups-demand-greater-protection-after-swabi-attack/
“TTP targets MQM supporters in Karachi, kills four,” Express Tribune, January 1, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/487465/explosion-heard-in-karachi-express-news/
Shaiq Hussain, “Pakistan releases eight Taliban prisoners,” Washington Post, December 31, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistan-releases-eight-taliban-prisoners/2012/12/31/9ee28f8c-537b-11e2-8b9e-dd8773594efc_story.html?wprss=rss_asia-pacific
“Blast damages school in Lakki,” Dawn, January 1, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/02/blast-damages-school-in-lakki/
“Two schools blown up in Bara,” The News, December 30, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-81726-Two-schools-blown-up-in-Bara--
“Nine ‘Pakistani Taliban fighters’ found dead in North Waziristan: officials,” AFP, December 30, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/31/nine-pakistani-taliban-fighters-found-dead-in-north-waziristan-officials/
“Explosive device defused in Bannu,” The News, January 2, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-152018-Explosive-device-defused-in-Bannu
“Blast outside cinema house injures one in Peshawar,” Dawn, December 30, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/30/blast-outside-cinema-house-injures-one-in-peshawar/
“Three women killed as shells hit houses in Bara,” The News, December 31, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19883-Three-women-killed-as-shells-hit-houses-in-Bara
“Two girls killed by mortar shell,” Dawn, January 1, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/02/two-girls-killed-by-mortar-shell/
Karachi violence: Four gunned down in Sohrab Goth,” Express Tribune, December 31, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/486962/karachi-violence-four-gunned-down-in-sohrab-goth/
“Killing sparks arson in Karachi locality,” The News, December 31, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-81779-Killing-sparks-arson-attacks-in-Karachi-locality-
“Cleric gunned down in Karachi,” Express Tribune, December 30, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/486669/cleric-gunned-down-in-karachi/
“Hand-grenade attacks in Karachi,” The News, December 30, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19848-Hand-grenade-attacks-in-Karachi
“Meeting in Islamabad over granting MFN status to India: Foreign Secretary Jilani,” Dawn, December 31, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/31/meeting-in-islamabad-over-granting-mfn-status-to-india-foreign-secretary-jilani/
“PPP shocked by MQM’s decision,” Dawn, December 29, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/31/ppp-shocked-by-mqms-decision/