India-Pakistan: Chasing Taliban Up The Mountain


December 13, 2007: Although the Taliban uprising in the Swat valley has been declared crushed, there are still a hundred or more Taliban gunmen unaccounted for. Two weeks of fighting have left 330 Taliban dead and 160 arrested, along with about fifty soldiers and civilians killed or wounded. The surviving Taliban have fled to the mountains, and troops are going after them there. The army is preparing for a year long operation to hunt down and arrest all the pro-Taliban people in the valley. The army currently has about 20,000 troops in Swat, which has a population of some 1.3 million. The Taliban fire their rifles and RPGs without much effect, and are easy targets for army helicopter gunships. The most effective weapons have been suicide car bombers, but these kill mainly civilians.

Meanwhile, fighting continues along the Afghan border, where the Taliban are most active. The Taliban are not strong enough to even attempt open control of a town, but are able to ambush army vehicle movements. These have cost the army over fifty casualties in the past week.

It's Winter, and most of the Taliban fighters are indoors, or staying close to home. Those who go out to fight are at a major disadvantage, for the army is better prepared operate in the Winter than are the Taliban.

An al Qaeda plot to kill president Musharraf was broken up, and a large quantity of weapons seized. The captured terrorists insisted the plot would go forward, because a large number of al Qaeda members were involved.

In northeast India, a bomb went off in a train, killing five people. A local tribal separatist group took responsibility. While the government has destroyed or weakened most of these rebel organization in the last decade, several survive. The rebels spend most of their time raising money via various criminal methods. Extortion is one of the most popular. Stuff along the lines of "pay us money so that we don't kill you or blow up your business." The communist Maoist rebels in eastern India are using this approach with increasing success. However, many large businesses simply leave Maoist infested areas, or will not set up operations there.


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