Published in The Nation newspaper on 30-Nov-2012
SOUTH WAZIRISTAN/PESHAWAR - At least seven people were killed and 10 others including a prominent Taliban commander Maulvi Nazir were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at Rustam Bazaar in South Waziristan Agency on Thursday. Local sources said the suicide bomber, riding a bike, detonated his explosive vest as he approached Maulvi Nazir’s vehicle near Ajab Noor Mosque. The blast was so powerful that its sound was heard across Wana tehsil. The blast also damaged 10 shops and six vehicles in Rustam Bazaar. The injured were shifted to Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Wana where they were provided emergency medical aid. The area was cordoned off by personnel of security forces and guards of Maulvi Nazir. After the bomb detonated, shooting also broke out, although between whom was unclear, sources said, adding, there was no report of any casualty.Political Agent South Waziristan Agency Shahidullah told TheNation that it was a suicide blast and its target was Maulvi Nazir also called Mullah Nazir. He said the suicide bomber was on a motorbike and exploded himself near the vehicle of Maulvi Nazir. He added that the blast killed seven people and injured 10 others. Born in 1975, Maulvi Nazir is a leading member of Pakistani Taliban who opposes foreign militants in Pakistan and South Waziristan Agency. He also opposes foreign influence, particularly Uzbek and American in the Agency. Sources said that Nazir is considered a ‘good Taliban’ as he does not have a particular anti-government agenda. He also remained a leader of Peace lashkar in the area and led his faction against foreign militants especially Uzbek in the area. Nazir is a member of the Kakakhel tribe of Ahmadzai Wazir, he is a dual citizen of both Afghanistan and Pakistan and until 2010, owns property in Kandahar and controls large portions of South Waziristan Agency. Agencies add: Maulvi Nazir Wazir, also known as Mullah Nazir, was wounded in the attack. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack or the extent of Nazir’s wounds. The blast destroyed Nazir’s vehicle, killed six people and wounded 12, said Maulana Amir Nawaz, a spokesman for Nazir.Details of the attack were sketchy as militants quickly sealed off the scene in the main market of Wana.Accounts differed over the gravity of his injuries, but most concurred he was not in danger. “Nazir survived because he had already got out of the car,” the official said.Amir Nawaz, spokesman for Nazir, said among dead were warlord’s drivers and another associate.Nazir received only minor shrapnel injuries, Nawaz said. He estimated that the bomber was aged between 12 and 15, and had been carrying a wheelbarrow.A security official had told AFP the bomber rammed a motorcycle into Nazir’s car.Witnesses said the blast damaged shops and shattered windows in a dozen vehicles.Militancy expert Rahimullah Yusufzai said Nazir had a long list of enemies and warned that Thursday’s attack could spark a new wave of bloodshed.Nazir opposes Uzbek fighters and has had awkward relations with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction, which is dominated by members of the rival Mehsud tribe.He has survived attempts on his life in the past and has been an enemy of Uzbek fighters since curbing in 2007 the Uzbek uprising spearheaded by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in South Waziristan, Yusufzai said.“It is difficult to say who could be behind the latest attack because Mullah Nazir has problems with Uzbeks, IMU and the TTP. Nazir’s men have also been firing rockets on Pakistan Army positions in South Waziristan,” he added.“The enmity with the TTP will rise further if Nazir’s group finds TTP’s involvement in the attack,” Yusufzai said.Saifullah Mahsud, executive director of the Fata Research Center, a think-tank focused on the tribal belt, said Nazir and Gul Bahadur are very close to the Haqqani network.Nazir has never been a member of the TTP but has had “on and off” alliances with the umbrella Taliban faction, Mahsud said.In April 2007, Nazir gave a rare press conference in Wana at which he said he had never met Osama bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda terror chief shot dead by US troops in Abbottabad in 2011, but would protect him if asked.Shortly before the press conference, he had been congratulated by the government for expelling Uzbek and other foreign, Al-Qaeda-linked militants from South Waziristan.Mullah Nazir and North Waziristan commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur confine their militant activities to Afghanistan, where they oppose the presence of US and Nato troops.They are understood to be close to the Haqqani network, a faction of the Afghan Taliban blamed for some of the most high-profile attacks in Afghanistan.Nazir’s fighters have been targeted and killed by US drone strikes but he reached a peace deal with Islamabad in 2007.
Bomber wounds Mullah Nazir, kills 7
Published in The Nation newspaper on 30-Nov-2012