Pakistan Says TTP Militants Upto 10,000 In Border Region With Afghanistan

The TTP has increased the attacks on security forces since November when they ended a months-long cease-fire with the Pakistan government.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) blew up a police truck in Balochistans Quettas Baleli area

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said that the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group has between 7,000 to 10,000 fighters in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area.

Sanaullah also revealed that the rebels were accompanied by 25,000 members of their families.

His remarks to Dawn News TV come at a time when the TTP has stepped up its countrywide attacks, including the first suicide bombing in the capital Islamabad since 2014.

The TTP has increased the attacks on security forces since November when they ended a months-long cease-fire with the Pakistan government.  

Sanaullah pointed out that some locals were also involved in crimes such as extortion and blackmail and alleged that the provincial government had failed to stop them, Dawn newspaper reported.

“The biggest reason for this is the failure of (the) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and Counter Terrorism Department (…) It is their job to stop it,” the interior minister said, blaming the provincial government led by ousted prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

He said that Pakistan had its Army for the protection of the borders, adding that if the provincial government cannot handle the situation, it can request the federal government.

“The Army will eliminate all such elements of terrorism.”

Commenting on the prevalent viewpoint that TTP took the dialogue and ceasefire excuse to regroup, Sanaullah said the group never scattered and was further bolstered by the success of the Afghan Taliban.

Agreeing with the idea of an all-party conference or a national security meeting on the emerging threat of terrorism, the minister said such huddles must take place but stressed that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government first needed to sit with the federal government and talk.

“The KP government needs to inform the federal government about the law and order in the province — the counter-terrorism department is in peril and the police are demoralised — and ask what help the Centre can extend and it is ready to assist them.

“We held two meetings in Islamabad where the chief minister was invited but the latter didn’t show up as he was planning to mount on the capital (for a long march) and was not allowed by party chief Imran Khan,” Sanaullah claimed.

A policeman along with two suspected militants was killed and at least six others, including four policemen, were injured in the bombing on Friday in the upscale residential area. The bombing was claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)-a banned terrorist group that has reactivated after the capture of Kabul by the Afghan Taliban.

The TTP, believed to be close to al-Qaeda, has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases, and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

In 2014, the Pakistani Taliban stormed the Army Public School (APS) in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing at least 150 people, including 131 students.

The Friday attack was the first suicide bombing incident in Islamabad since the 2014 courthouse bombing that killed 10 people.