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Pakistani Taliban besieged, but confident

In a basement in Bannu, a group of Pakistani Taliban vow to continue Afghan operations.

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The 26-year-old Pakistani pro-Taliban militant Majnoon used to openly vice patrol in his hometown, Datta Khel, along the Afghan border, he says. But since a peace agreement in his area ended two months ago, the Pakistani Army is after him, and he says he can no longer go after those who violate Islamic social norms. But he still wants to continue his struggle for an Islamic state in Afghanistan.

"Now the training camps over here are shunned, and everybody is on the road to get training in suicide attacks and other tactics inside Afghanistan," says Majnoon, wearing a white prayer cap.

Majnoon, and a few other self-declared Taliban fighters interviewed recently in a basement in Bannu, say that the NATO and US forces in Afghanistan now face more threats from Pakistani pro-Taliban militants than before a controversial peace agreement was broken.

Pro-Taliban militants and the Pakistani government signed a heavily criticized peace agreement in February 2005 and September 2006. The Pakistani Army agreed to reduce its presence in tribal areas if the militants would stop attacking the Pakistani Army and forces in Afghanistan.

But many analysts and observers said that the peace agreement provided free cross-border movement for Taliban fighters, thereby increasing violence and instability.

Last July, the agreement came to an end following a standoff between the Pakistani military and militants in Islamabad's Lal (Red) Mosque.

No longer occupied with vice patrols and running their own tribal government, Majnoon and other Pakistani Taliban say they are now devoting their efforts fighting the Pakistani military and foreign soldiers in Afghanistan, though it has become harder for them to operate.


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