What is happening in North Waziristan?
By Mushtaq Yusufzai, The News, June 08, 2010
20 militants freed, Army convoy let go
PESHAWAR: Situation in the troubled North Waziristan tribal region has witnessed a gradual improvement following an agreement on Monday that led to the release of 20 Taliban by the government and in return the militants allowed an Army convoy, stranded in Miramshah for the last 45 days, to proceed.
Relations between the government and Hafiz Gul Bahadur-led Taliban had turned sour 45 days ago after an attack on a security forces convoy by suspected militants near the Hamzoni village, 25 kilometres west of Miramshah.
Eight soldiers were killed and several others injured in the attack on the convoy. The government later imposed a curfew on the Miramshah-Dattakhel Road and launched a crackdown against the Hamzoni tribe under the collective responsibility clause of Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). It arrested 50 people, including Taliban militants and some tribesmen.
The incident generated rumours that the government was planning to launch a major military operation against the Taliban in North Waziristan. However, a Jirga comprising tribal elders and clerics made sustained efforts to bring the two sides to the negotiating table. It finally succeeded in persuading them to show flexibility in their hard stances.
The government, as a sign of goodwill gesture, first released 20 detainees out of the total 54, and agreed to remove some of the checkpoints to which the Taliban and tribesmen had objected.
The Taliban returned some vehicles and arms and ammunition that they had seized after the attack on the military convoy in Hamzoni village. Sources privy to the Jirga said North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur had promised that his men would not resort to confrontation with the government and would be responsible for protection of security forces if he was informed prior to movement of convoys in his area.
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