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Official figures say 3,219 Taliban militants killed, arrested since 2008
By Iqbal Khattak
PESHAWAR -- The Taliban-linked militancy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa killed 1,518 civilians and 681 police personnel from January 2007 through March 2010, according to official figures obtained by Central Asia Online.
The provincial government also said 334 militants were killed and 2,885 were arrested since the start of 2008. Militant deaths and arrests for 2007 were not provided.
The figures provided to Central Asia Online show that 742 civilians and 278 law enforcement personnel were killed in 2009, making it the bloodiest year in the last three-and-a-half years. The deaths were attributed to suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and other Taliban attacks.
According to the official figures, civilian casualties almost doubled last year in comparison to 2008. In 2008, 409 people, including men, women and children, perished in attacks throughout the province.
Malakand region and the Peshawar, Hangu, Bannu and Tank districts were highly affected by the militancy. The federal government added these areas to “Category A” for which a special economic aid package has been announced.
The government did not provide casualty numbers by district. However, the Swat district in Malakand has suffered more than any other district under Taliban control. The government’s military offensive has since expelled the militants.
During the past three and a half years, the Taliban carried out 112 suicide attacks, 632 EID attacks and waged 920 gun battles, missile and hand-grenade attacks. In 2009, there were 47 suicide attacks, 210 IED attacks and 470 other attacks on police and other law enforcement agencies and civilians.
Militant attacks have dropped significantly in the first six months of 2010, with only seven suicide attacks, 16 IED bombings and 31 other attacks, according to the official figures. These attacks have killed 114 civilians, 14 police and 39 other law enforcement personnel.
The decrease in the number of attacks is linked to the destruction of militant command-and-control structures during military operations in Swat and other districts of the Malakand region, Bajaur, Orakzai and South Waziristan, experts say.
Because of the province’s deteriorating security situation, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government increased the police budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 by 117% to a record Rs 21 billion (US $246m).
Finance Minister Muhammad Humayun Khan told the provincial assembly last week that the increased police budget would help increase strengthen the police by building more police stations and equipping officers with the latest weapons and communication systems to take on the militancy more effectively.
“The prevailing law and order situation has increased expenditure manifolds. The province, despite having limited resources, has allocated adequate funds to police services. In the said backdrop, there is a sharp increase in the budget of police,” Humayun said.
Last year, the police budget was less than Rs 10 billion (US $117m).
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government also increased the number of police personnel by 41.24% over the past two years to increase security in urban areas near borders with tribal districts.
According to the provincial government, 154 militants were killed and 1,764 were arrested in 2008; 138 were killed and 904 were arrested in 2009, and 46 were killed and 217 were arrested during the first three months of 2010.