MOSCOW, December 16 (Sputnik) — The terrifying attack on a school in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan by The Taliban Movement of Pakistan which has killed over 140 innocent people, most of them children, has left commentators rushing to answer questions about who these militants are, what it is they want and how they could carry out such a brutal attack against innocent schoolchildren.
As The Independent explained, the majority of the Pakistani Taliban fighters are part of the Pashtun ethnic group, concentrated in the northwest regions of Pakistan along the Afghan border. The Taliban Movement of Pakistan –the Tekhrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is a loose alliance of about a dozen Islamist militant groups, formed in late 2007. Many of its fighters are thought to be elements of the Afghani Taliban which fought against the Afghan government and NATO forces following the US-led invasion of 2001.
The movement’s main security objective has been to combat the Pakistani state, which has been stepping up military and intelligence operations against the group in recent years. The movement supports the Afghani Taliban’s Mullah Omar with military assistance, personnel, and safe harbor for militants coming from across the Afghan border to reequip and regroup.
The group was initially led by Baitullah Mehsud, who founded the alliance from among about a dozen militant groups operating in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas region of Pakistan; Baitullah was accused by US military analysts of involvement in the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, an accusation he denied. He was killed in a US drone strike in South Waziristan in August 2009 and replaced by his deputy, Hakimullah Mehsud. Hakimullah also survived several US drone strike attacks before being killed in November2013. The Pakistani government had earlier named Hakimullah to be the chief suspect in the assassination of Bhutto by the Pakistani government.
Hakimullah was replaced by Maulana Fazlullah, the group’s current leader. Fazullah has been nicknamed the “Radio Mullah” for his unlicensed FM radio broadcasts on jihad against the West, and on issues of religious and social significance. Since 2006, territories under his control have made Sharia courts the main territorial judicial courts; militants allied to him have attacked electronic media, banned music and dancing, threatened men against shaving their beards and girls and women against going to school or voting. Ultimately, the TTP supports the establishment of a strictly fundamentalist Islamic state in Afghanistan and in the northwest regions of Pakistan under their control.
In the past, the TTP has targeted security forces, military bases, airports, and other logistical zones in Pakistan, but generally has not focused on civilians before Tuesday’s gruesome attack, The Independent explained. Indian news source OneIndia said that the attack may have been a response to the Pakistan intelligence service’s recent successes in working to split the group, and considers the attack a sign of desperation.
The Taliban has said that the attack on the school was a response to Pakistani army operations in North Waziristan and the Khyber area. TTP spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani stated that “we selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” adding that “we want them to feel the pain.”
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