Taliban Rebuilding Explosive Capabilities

GENERIC Pakistan map CBS

Map of Pakistan
CBS
Taliban militants operating in Pakistan's border region along Afghanistan "have significantly rebuilt their capacity to use large amounts of explosives" in carrying out terrorist attacks, a senior Pakistani security official warned on Sunday after the latest suicide attack in the region killed at least seven people.

A lone suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden truck in a police station in the Kohat region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, a province earlier known as the NWFP, early on Sunday.

This latest attack came just a day after two suicide attacks killed at least 41 people on Saturday targeting camps of internally displaced people who fled fighting between Taliban militants and the Pakistan army in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Pakistani security officials in the region said the truck was loaded with up to 250 kilograms of explosives. A senior Pakistani security official speaking on the condition of anonymity to CBS News from Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa said, "The evidence pieced together between attacks on Saturday and Sunday suggests that these militants have re-assembled a good part of their arsenal. They now have the capacity to launch further attacks."

A second security official speaking on condition of anonymity to CBS News in Islamabad agreed with the first official, saying, "The capacity of these militants to launch fresh attacks has been re-vitalized. They are now in position to carry out further strikes."

Both officials, citing the sensitive nature of the information, refused to divulge details of how they concluded that militants involved in the two days of attacks had rebuilt their capacity.

"If you would have asked me three months ago I would have said the stockpiles of the militants were probably depleted," said the second official. "But now I have to admit they have rebuilt a good part of their arsenal."

Any evidence of Taliban militants with increased ability to carry out bomb and suicide attacks would be of concern to President Barack Obama's administration as it seeks to take control of Afghanistan through a troop surge this year.

In Pakistan the military led by General Ashfaq Kiyani would also have cause for concern over the latest assessments, a year after the Pakistan military began attacking suspected sites of Taliban militants in the region along the Afghan border. In the past six months, U.S. and Pakistani militaries have drawn themselves closer to each other as they deepen their alliance to fight al Qaeda and Taliban militants.

The U.S. acknowledges Pakistan as the most vital country among the states surrounding landlocked Afghanistan. Pakistan's border along Afghanistan is roughly equivalent to the border of all of Afghanistan's other neighbors among the former Soviet central Asian countries and Iran.

A Western ambassador based in Islamabad who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity said in spite of Pakistan's growing commitment against the Taliban, "It is clearly evident to anyone in Pakistan you just can't totally seal this long border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It remains a porous border." He said the issue is mainly that the Taliban continue to get supplies "most likely from Afghanistan. If the supplies are still coming through then that probably means our [western] alliance in Afghanistan needs to work harder to plug all the loopholes."

  • Farhan Bokhari

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