By Muhammad Tahir
ISLAMABAD, Nov. 13 (Xinhua)-- Despite some setbacks that they suffered from Pakistani security forces, the Pakistani Taliban have continued their target killings in the country's northwest, assassinating at least two leaders of peace committees and dozens of civilians in the latest wave of violent attacks.
An anti-Taliban leader was shot dead in northwestern Lower Dir District in the first week of this month. Abdul Rehman was a prominent member of a pro-government militia in the area. He had survived two previous attempts on his life.
A day later, at least five people were killed in a Taliban suicide bombing in Buner district, which is situated near Swat valley. A local anti-Taliban peace committee, Fateh Khan, was among those killed. There were two more target attacks in the region in recent days.
The Taliban spokesman Sirajuddin claimed responsibility for the four attacks in Pakistan in text messages to the media persons. He said that the slain leaders were 'hurdles in the way of Islamic system and were behind the murder and arrest of Taliban militants'.
In one of the brutal attacks, Taliban gunmen shot and injured a 14-year school girl, Malala Yousafzai, in the Swat District on Oct. 9 for her advocacy in promoting girls'education in Pakistan. She was critically injured and is now recuperating at a London hospital where she was brought for further treatment.
The Taliban earlier claimed responsibility for the cowardly attack on an innocent school girl. After learning that Malala has survived the attack, the Taliban issued another warning that they would target her and her family again.
The Taliban also stepped up their attacks on police officers in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and killed scores of policemen including three senior officers recently.
Armed Taliban had been in an ultimate control of the scenic Swat valley and some other nearby areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province until the security forces killed and expelled most of them as the result of a major operation in May 2009.
The Swat Taliban chief, Maulvi Fazalullah, escaped from the military operation and the Pakistan Army said that Fazalullah has regrouped his remnants in remote border regions inside Afghanistan and routinely launched attacks inside border checkpoints and villages inside Pakistan.
The army claims that Pakistani Taliban militants have carried out 15 attacks in Pakistan in one year.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that Pakistan has formally asked the Afghan government to extradite Fazalullah so that he can be prosecuted inside the country for his crimes in Swat valley.
But some Afghan officials consistently denied the presence of Pakistani Taliban along their side of the border and insisted that the Taliban insurgents are hiding in mountainous border areas which are out of the control of both countries.
Although the Taliban are no longer in a position to take control of any area in Swat valley and its adjoining areas, their continuing armed attacks have caused great concern among government forces and peace volunteers.
Concerned groups have called on Pakistan security agencies to improve the system of intelligence to monitor the activities of the Taliban hiding in Swat valley.
Besides carrying out target attacks in the northwest, Taliban militants have also sneaked into Karachi, the country's commercial center and southern port city, police and political leaders said.
Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said this month that the group will now launch attacks on the Mutahida Qaumi Movement or MQM, the major political party, in Karachi.
Karachi is in now in the grip of target killings of political activists and the security officials blamed the Taliban for the killings in Karachi.
Intelligence officials believe that many Taliban militants have penetrated Karachi from the northwest.
The Supreme Court also ordered the law enforcement agencies to act against the Taliban in Karachi. But the police and the paramilitary force, Rangers, have not yet solved the killings in the city.
Police sources said that nearly 30 people have lost their lives in three days of attacks in Karachi.