Tank: Army picket attacked
TANK: Militants attacked a military checkpoint in the Jandola Frontier Region of Tank district on Saturday evening after the expiry of a two-day deadline they had set for ending the Swat operation, officials and local people said.
They said that the Tor Pul picket came under heavy gunfire. The forces countered the attack and fired artillery shells.
Local people said the area reverberated with intense fire as both sides continued to pound each other’s positions.
The attack followed a warning by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan issued at the expiry of the deadline that they would attack the security forces and the government’s installations as it had failed to halt the Swat operation and pull out troops from the valley.
The militants had announced that they would resume attacks, and even suicide bombings, in the NWFP and the tribal areas. “The deadline expired today, but the government has not stopped the military operation and the crackdown on militants in Swat. Now, we will start attacks against the government and the security forces,” Maulvi Omar, a spokesman for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, told Dawn on telephone.
“Anywhere from Waziristan and Dera Ismail Khan to Bajaur tribal region to Kohistan and the settled districts of the NWFP, the government installations, security forces and the army centres will be targeted,” he said, adding that the responsibility for any bloodshed would rest with the government.
He said the militants could not guarantee the safety of 26 hostage soldiers if the government did not meet their demands. “They lives are in potential danger and we cannot guarantee their safety if the government fails to act upon the militants’ demands,” he said.
He said the soldiers, two of them captains, had been taken hostage by the militants in South Waziristan. In reply to a question, he said the militants were constrained to warn that they would carry out suicide attacks against the security forces and government installations.
“We have repeatedly offered talks to the government to resolve the issues but it is compelling us to take up arms. We have intimated our followers that if the government launches a crackdown they should use whatever means they deem fit to attack the it and the security forces,” he said.