The Taliban have enforced their harsh rule in Pakistan's Bajaur district after the army lost control of most of the northwestern region. Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, the insurgents' commander, announced new laws in the region during a 40-minute speech on his illegal FM radio station, media reports said Saturday. The commander also warned local residents against seeking assistance from the Benazir Bhutto Income Support fund, a government program designated for lower income people. According to the defiant commander, people supporting the fund as well as aid agencies will be dragged into Taliban courts. He also barred women from stepping out of their homes without male relatives and banned men from shaving their beards. Local people who listened to the radio broadcast described his tone as "aggressive". The insurgents have also formed forces in the region to punish people who violate their decrees. Bajaur is considered a crucial hub for the Taliban insurgents due to its access routes to neighboring Afghanistan and the rest of Pakistan. The Bajaur tribal region and Swat Valley have been the scene of some of the worst fighting between Pakistani forces and Taliban-linked militants in recent months. In early March, authorities in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) agreed to establish Taliban rule in Swat Valley after troops surrendered to the insurgents in the volatile area. The Taliban militants have set up a parallel administration with courts, a tax system, patrols and checkpoints in the restive Swat Valley and the troubled northwestern region. Also, on Monday the Taliban occupying Swat Valley stormed the nearby district of Buner -- some 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Islamabad. On Friday, the Taliban moved to consolidate their grip on power and took control of the adjoining areas in the district. The insurgents claim that they brought the recent violence upon Pakistan in response to US drone attacks and have repeatedly warned that they would take their war to the capital in response. The government has raised the threat level in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad to 'red' amid fresh threats of terror following the Taliban advance. Pakistani authorities have also arrested some 400 suspects during a countrywide crackdown amid terror threats by Taliban militants. Pakistan suffers from the wave of violence seven and a half years after US-led forces invaded neighboring Afghanistan in 2001 allegedly to oust the Taliban, to destroy al-Qaeda, to capture Osama bin Laden and bring security to the volatile region. Despite the presence of more than 70,000 US-led foreign troops in Afghanistan, insurgency has escalated in the war-torn country and spilled over into neighboring Pakistan as well. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Interior Ministry Chief Rehman Malik insist that the Taliban seek to take over the whole state of Pakistan. Tensions between Washington and Islamabad have intensified as a result of US missile strikes against suspected militants on Pakistani soil and Islamabad has been put under increasing pressure to eliminate militant sanctuaries. The US along with Saudi Arabia encouraged the formation of militant groups in the troubled region in the 1980s to counter the then Soviet Union influence in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents carry the legacy of such groups.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- More than 80 militants attacked a supply terminal in northwest Pakistan that serves U.S. and NATO-led troops in Afghanistan, police said. The militants used rocket launchers and petrol bombs to torch 10 trailers at the terminal early Sunday in Peshawar, said Warid Khan of the city's police.An ensuing gun battle with the militants wounded three security guards, said Hassan Muhammad, also of Peshawar police.Peshawar is the capital of the North-West Frontier Province, which intelligence officials say is rife with Islamic extremists and has been the site of recent clashes between Pakistani security forces and militants. Because Afghanistan is landlocked, many supplies for NATO-led troops fighting Islamic militants in the area have to be trucked in from Pakistan.