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Rival militant groups join hands on Pak-Afghan border: NYT

A Pakistan Army soldier stands guard at a check point at the Pak-Afghan border in Kurram tribal region, Pakistan on 14 December 2010. PHOTO: EPA

 Intelligence reports from the Pak-Afghan border state that rival militant organisations in the region have joined hands to regain losses after attacks from allied forces in Afghanistan, said a New York Times report on Wednesday.

According to the report, evidence recovered from dead militants after recent clashes showed that they belonged to three different factions. The militants belonged to the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network and fighters from Hekmatyar group.

United States (US) officials believe that the new alliances are a result of militants feeling the pressure after operations by the US and allied forces on one side of the border, and Pakistan army operations and drone strikes on the other side of the border.

American and Nato officials say that there is also evidence of “loose” cooperation between the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Tehrik-i-Taliban.

“This is actually a syndicate of related and associated militant groups and networks,” said one American officer, summarising the emerging view of Pakistani officials. “Trying to parse them, as if they have firewalls in between them, is really kind of silly. They cooperate with each other. They franchise work with each other.”

The alliances are not controlled by central leaders but work along the lines of relationships that are made when attacks are mounted on Afghan, Pakistani or allied interests. The groups give safe passage to rivals and share recruits when responding to allied actions.

The report also reveals that a large number of militants are expected to remain in Afghanistan during the winter season and return to fight in Pakistan during spring.

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