Pakistan’s military said that it had bombed the hideout of militant leader Mullah Tamanchey on Sunday, killing five, only a day after the Taliban declared a one-month ceasefire to pursue stalled peace talks with the government.
Tamanchey directed a deadly assault on a convoy carrying a polio vaccination team and security forces on Saturday, during which 12 people were killed, the military said.
“The government is not going to tolerate any act of terror and any act will be replied to,” said a Pakistani security official who asked not to be identified.
Hours after the attack on the convoy, the Taliban said they would observe a one-month ceasefire in an effort to revive peace talks that failed last month. It also called on other militant groups to take part in the ceasefire.
The Pakistani Taliban, an alliance of militant groups, says it is fighting to overthrow the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and replace it with a state ruled under strict Islamic law.
Sharif began pursuing peace talks after he was elected in May. The talks were finally launched on February 6, but were quickly marred after the Taliban bombed a police bus in Karachi, killing 13 people.
The talks foundered days later when a Taliban faction claimed to have killed 23 paramilitary forces. The same night the military began bombing areas in the northwest that it said were militant hideouts.
In recent weeks speculation has been mounting that the military would launch a ground operation in North Waziristan, a tribal region along the border with Afghanistan that is a stronghold for the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Some analysts have speculated that the Taliban’s offer of a ceasefire is aimed at stalling such an operation.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-03-02