30 security men freed after ‘promising to quit force’
MINGORA/TIMERGARA, Feb 4: The Taliban in Swat set free 30 police and paramilitary personnel in the presence of journalists in Kotli Dadhara area of Kabal tehsil on Wednesday, after securing written promise from them that they would quit their government jobs.
“The hostages have been released on humanitarian grounds, but with a condition that they will quit their jobs and never fight against the Taliban,” local Taliban leaders told newsmen after a meeting of the Taliban Shura.
The security personnel were kidnapped on Tuesday when the militants overran a police checkpoint in Shamozai area adjacent to the Lower Dir district. The area had been under siege for 36 hours.
The security personnel surrendered when they ran out of ammunition and their request for reinforcements from the army base camp in Kabal went unheeded, a freed policeman said.
“We fought the Taliban the whole day, but at night we ran out of ammunition and we had no other option but to surrender,” the policeman said.
The Taliban blew up the checkpoint and took the personnel they had captured to their stronghold of Kabal on Wednesday morning.
Constable Kiramat Shah said: “Taliban have given us a new life. We had been under the siege for about 36 hours and pleaded for reinforcements, but nobody came to our help.”
Taliban leaders said the released personnel would publish advertisements in local newspapers, announcing their resignation and promising never to take part in any future action against Taliban.
The Taliban’s siege of the checkpoint triggered shelling from the military base in Kabal, Swat and Chakdara Fort.
Four civilians were killed in the shelling.
Local people said the victims were taking breakfast when mortar shells hit their homes, killing them on the spot.
Meanwhile, militants torched the house of a close relative of ANP’s senior leader Afzal Khan Lala in Bagh Dehri area in Taliban’s stronghold of Matta on Wednesday night.
Local people said that a large number of armed men attacked the house and the adjacent guest house of Khursheed Khan, a nephew of Afzal Khan Lala. They asked the watchmen to leave the compound and set fire to the houses. Mr Khursheed had already left the area.
Unlike MNAs and MPAs elected from the troubled Swat valley, Afzal Khan, a former federal minister, has not left his native Daroshkhela village despite several attempts made by Taliban to kill him and his relatives. (Dawn)
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Taliban kidnap 30 Pakistani policemen
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) — Taliban militants kidnapped 30 Pakistani policemen after a punishing day-long siege, in an embarrassing blow Wednesday for the army battling to win back control of the Swat valley.
The abduction, carried out at night when police and army reinforcements had suspended efforts to break the siege, underscores the huge challenges facing the security services.
Despite a wave of government offensives, the military has failed to impose its authority on the valley, a scenic former holiday region near the border with Afghanistan.
Thousands of Taliban besieged a police station in the area of Shamozai on Tuesday. The army was mobilised to rescue the police and break the circle of rebels, security officials said.
Clashes continued throughout the day but as dusk fell, the operation was suspended. Then, overnight, the Taliban broke into the office, kidnapped the officers and blew up the building, said Swat police chief Dilawar Khan.
Khan said the rebels kidnapped 30 policemen.
Article on BBC Urdu dot com
A cops’ nightmare
Police recruitment in Swat suffers badly as officials avoid postings in the Valley and the deployed force is demoralised
By Javed Aziz Khan
The situation in most parts of the Frontier and Fata has come to a point where the security forces’ personnel have refused to be posted in turbulent towns, even against better salaries and more incentives. A large-scale desertion has been witnessed in Frontier Police and Frontier Constabulary since they became the prime target of terrorist attacks. The situation is worse in Swat where a large number of cops have quit their jobs and published adverts in local newspapers so that the militants would know they are no more fighting against them.
Recruitment in Swat police was announced on many occasions in the past year but very few candidates turned up for jobs. The rest decided not to join till peace is restored in the valley. The government even relaxed the criteria for these jobs but the tactic didn’t work.
The most shocking news, however, was the en bloc refusal of about 600 specially trained commandos of the newly set up Elite Police Force (EPF), who said collectively that they would rather be dismissed. The services of these commandos were placed at the disposal of district police officer Swat and they were supposed to join duty in the first week of January. But none of them went to the troubled valley. Parents of the newly trained commandos also refused to send their children to the war-hit region where cops had been slaughtered and strangulated publicly.
Refusal of such a large number of policemen to join duty in Swat puzzled the authorities who later decided to deploy the EPF cops in Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat and Hangu.
“We are not afraid of being killed but we have certain reservations on the role that the police force has been assigned in the region. If we alone are allowed to clear Swat (of terrorists), we are ready,” opined a young commando, requesting anonymity.
The cop said that there must be a mechanism of providing ration and other logistics to the EPF cops, like army men, so that none of them will have go to bazaars for shopping and be ambushed.
It may be mentioned here that a large number of policemen and FC personnel were caught by the militants from different trade centres or bus stands. Four cops were brutally murdered in Swat recently. The body of one Gul Islam was mutilated and his face disfigured. The head of another, Javed, was slit with a drill machine while Aziz, a driver, was slaughtered after his family could not arrange the ransom money. Another unidentified cop was also killed last week. Bodies of several policemen were hanged in public places.
Recalling incidents of beheading, an EPF commando told TNS, “None of the culprits have been caught or punished till date. This, obviously, brings the morale of the force down.”
Posting in Swat has become a very sensitive issue – something that the officials avoid commenting on. An official of the Frontier Police when approached only said that the government had spent over Rs 10 million on a 4-month training of 1022 cops of the EPF, who would be given Rs 3000 in addition to their salaries.
Interestingly, the establishment of the EPF has not yet been formally sanctioned. Though, the NWFP chief minister has approved the setting up of the Elite Force, comprising 2500 commandos, as a special case. Special training has been given to 1022 cops by army men at the Punjab Regimental Centre in Mardan while 521 others were trained at Karachi. Besides, the entire police force is being given five-week Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) training to equip them with techniques of fighting terrorism. A contingent of over 500 cops who are training in Karachi will return in March this year after which they will be deployed in different parts of the troubled valley. (The News on Sunday)