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Dec 5th, 2008

Pakistan Police Losing Terrorism Fight

Officers outgunned and underfinanced compared with insurgents

Image: Pakistan police
Pakistani police officers hold remains of rockets allegedly fired by militants at a police station in Awaid near Bannu, Pakistan, on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008. (Photo credit: Ijaz Mohammad / AP)

Dec. 4, 2008

BADABER, Pakistan — Brothers Mushtaq and Ishaq Ali left the police force a month ago, terrified of dying as their colleagues had — beheaded by militants on a rutted village road before a shocked crowd.

They went straight to the local Urdu-language newspaper to announce their resignation. They were too poor to pay for a personal ad, so the editor of The Daily Moon, Rasheed Iqbal, published a news story instead. He has run dozens like it.

“They just want to get the word out to the Taliban that they are not with the police anymore so they won’t kill them,” said Iqbal. “They know that no one can protect them, and especially not their fellow policemen.”

Outgunned and out-financed, police in volatile northwestern Pakistan are fighting a losing battle against insurgents, dozens of interviews by The Associated Press show. They are dying in large numbers, and many survivors are leaving the force.

The number of terrorist attacks against police has gone up from 113 in 2005 to 1,820 last year, according to the National Police Bureau. The death toll for policemen in that time increased from nine to 575. In the northwestern area alone, 127 policemen have died so far this year in suicide bombings and assassinations, and another 260 have been wounded. …

“The only way to save Pakistan is to think of extremism and insurgency in North West Frontier Province as a law-enforcement issue,” said Hassan Abbas, a South Asia expert at Harvard University’s Belfer Center Project for Science. “Rather than buying more F-16s, Pakistan should invest in modernizing its police.”

Bombings, beheadings commonplace

In the Swat Valley, militants have turned a once-idyllic mountain getaway into a nightmare of bombings and beheadings despite a six-month military operation to root them out. About 300 policemen have fled the force already. …

Al-Qaida-linked militants ferry truckloads of explosives from the tribal regions through Mardan to targets deep within Pakistan, often slipping past scores of police checkpoints. …

Lack of money, resources

Malik Naveed Khan, who heads the force of 55,000 in the North West Frontier Province, said he has one policeman for every 364 miles of some of the most dangerous terrain in the world. …

Khan said his men fight with World War II-vintage, single-shot weapons against the rapid-fire Kalashnikov rifles carried by the militants. The police go out on patrol without bulletproof vests or helmets. And of Khan’s 18 armored personnel carriers, six are 1960s-era Soviet models that break down so often he now sends a mechanic along with the police. …


Related reports

Afghan women leaders face growing Taliban threats

Suicide bombers hit Afghan southeast


Late update

Car Bomb Kills 29 in Northwestern Pakistan

Image: Fire from car bomb
A car bomb set buildings on fire in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Friday, Dec. 5, 2008 near the city’s famed Storytellers Bazaar. (Photo credit: Mohammad Sajjad / AP)

Dec. 5, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A car bomb devastated a busy street in this northwestern Pakistani city on Friday, killing 29 people, injuring about 100 more and unnerving a region already dangerously on edge following the attacks on India’s commercial capital. [Casualty figures updated 12/6/08]

Further adding to the tension, a suspected U.S. missile strike reportedly killed three people in a stronghold of the Taliban and al-Qaida near the border with Afghanistan.

Escalating violence is destabilizing Pakistan’s northwest just as the country faces accusations from archrival India that the gunmen behind the carnage in Mumbai last week were trained in Pakistan and steered by militants based there. …

The bomb went off near Peshawar’s famed Storytellers Bazaar early Friday evening, wrecking a Shiite Muslim mosque and a hotel and setting a string of vehicles and shops ablaze. …

Television footage showed survivors frantically carrying bloodied victims through the rubble to private cars and ambulances as fire crews sought to douse the flames.

Khizer Hayat, a senior doctor at the city’s main hospital, said 20 bodies as well as over 60 wounded people were brought there. [12/6/08 update: Sahib Khan, a doctor at a main hospital said Saturday that they received 20 bodies after the blast, while another nine injured died overnight.]

Police chief Malik Naveed Khan said the bomb seemed to contain chemicals designed to spread fire. …

Operations stepped up

Pakistan and the United States have stepped up operations against Taliban and al-Qaida strongholds in the northwest to curb mounting attacks launched from there on targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

There have been more than 30 suspected U.S. missile strikes since August, including one on Friday in the North Waziristan region, part of Pakistan’s wild tribal belt viewed as possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden. …

The missiles are apparently fired from drone aircraft that take off from Afghanistan. U.S. officials rarely confirm or deny responsibility though American leaders have said the attacks have killed several militant leaders this year.

Insurgents have responded with an onslaught of gun and bomb attacks that have sparked concern about the possible disruption of a key supply line for NATO and U.S. troops that cuts through Peshawar and the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan.

Suicide bombing at checkpoint

Earlier Friday, a suicide car bomber killed six people at a checkpoint in the Orakzai tribal region, just south of Peshawar, after police and local tribesmen waved for him to stop.

In the nearby town of Bannu, police said militants armed with guns and rockets killed two officers manning another checkpoint. …


Related story

Canadian deaths in Afghanistan surpass 100
3 troops killed in armored car when roadside bomb detonates



Two Blasts Kill At Least 15 in Western Iraq

Dec. 4, 2008

FALLUJA, Iraq — Two suicide truck bombs targeting Iraqi police stations killed at least 15 people, wounded 147 others and leveled six houses in western Iraq on Thursday, police said.

The U.S. military said the attacks in different parts of the city of Falluja, 30 miles west of Baghdad, bore the hallmarks of Sunni Islamist al Qaeda.

Police Captain Hammad al-Mohammedi told Reuters security forces had sealed off the city to traffic in response to the bombs, which exploded simultaneously outside the two stations. Six policemen were among the dead, he said. …


Iraqi Army Finds 80 Bodies in Four Mass Graves

Dec. 4, 2008

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi army unearthed 80 decomposed bodies from four mass graves in northern Iraq’s volatile Diyala province, a security source for the region said on Thursday.

The mass graves were in two Shi’ite villages close to the provincial capital of Baquba, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, an area where Sunni Islamist al Qaeda militants once ruled and carried out mass sectarian killings against Shi’ites.

Iraqi security forces regularly uncover mass graves, most of them from a sectarian conflict in 2006 and 2007 that pushed Iraq to the brink of all-out civil war. Police found 30 bodies in another grave in Diyala on Saturday.


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Dec. 4, as reported by Reuters.

MOSUL – A suicide car bomber killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded nine people including two policemen in an attack on a U.S. military convoy near a police checkpoint in southern Mosul, the U.S. military said.

FALLUJA – Two coordinated suicide truck bombs outside police stations killed at least 15 people, wounded 147 others and leveled six houses in Falluja, 32 miles west of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Gunmen shot dead an on-duty police officer in central Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A bomb attached to a vehicle wounded four people including two government employees in central Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – U.S. forces killed four suspected al Qaeda militants and detained 32 others during multiple operations throughout the country on Wednesday and Thursday, the U.S. military said in a statement.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb wounded two civilians at a police checkpoint in south-central Baghdad, police said.

2 Responses to “Pak Police Losing in Terror War”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Iraq, AfPak Have Little in Common Says:

    […] Pak Police Losing in Terror War […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Insurgents Coming Back in Iraq Says:

    […] Pakistan Police Losing in Terror War […]

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