Tuesday, 07 December 2010

More Than 40 Killed by Suicide Bombers in Pakistan

Written by  Malik Ayub Sumbal

More than 40 people were killed December 6 in twin suicide blasts in the northwest of Pakistan. The twin blasts took place in the office of a political agent at Ghalanai, the main town in the tribal district of Mohmand, about 175 Kilometers away from the capital Islamabad, near the Afghan border. These blasts were carried out by two suicide bombers who disguised themselves in police uniforms.

They targeted the local administration compound.

A local administration official told The New American that a man on a motorbike had driven up to a sitting area at a meeting and detonated his explosives. Subsequently another bomber, also on a motorbike, exploded his device at the gate of the compound.

According to the sources and after talking with the government officials, it has become clear that a gathering of more than 100 people was organized by the local political agent to make a strategy against the Taliban. Government official Muhammad Khalid Khan told The New American that tribal elders, police officials, and two journalists were amongst those killed.

Dozens of people were also hurt in this attack, and they were carried to the nearest main city, Peshawar, which is also the provincial headquarters of Khyber Pakhtoon Kha. (This is the name of the province of Pakistan. Prior to this name, it was known as N.W.F.P (North West Frontier Province), but the present regime changed its name.) The sources confirmed to The New American that the death toll may rise as more than 25 people are seriously injured.

This area is situated at the border of Afghanistan, and a stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaeda resides here, according to the local administration and the views of the inhabitants.

An eyewitness, Zubair Khan, said, "There was a huge blast sound and then there was dust and the smell of the explosives all around in the atmosphere. I was also toppled down and there were mutilated limbs all around the scene."

Advertisement

According to the sources, the main target of the attackers was Amjad Ali Khan, a top Mohmand Agency (tribal region along the Afghanistan border) politician because he is working for the government of Pakistan and backing the anti-Taliban forces with the cooperation of the Pakistani government. He was not injured in the attack. Amjad Ali Khan said that the bombers had also packed their suicide vests with bullets, which had increased the death toll. He said that the Taliban in the Mohmand Agency have been led by Umer Khalid, who is not very famous but is one of the most powerful Taliban commanders. His followers engage in combat at the forefront in Afghanistan against the allied forces.

Thousands of people have been killed in Pakistan in a series of suicide blasts since the government raided the Red Mosque in Islamabad. On July 3, 2007, when Pervez Musharraf was the President of Pakistan, he called the security forces to lay siege to the Red Mosque in Islamabad. According to the then-government, terrorists were in the mosque. The heads of the Red Mosque, Ghazi Abdul Rasheed and Moulana Abdul Aziz, two brothers, refused to open up and exchanged heavy fire and bombs with the army. Moulana Abdul Aziz was arrested and his brother, Ghazi Abdul Rasheed, was killed. No terrorists were arrested, however, hundreds of students who were studying at that time in a seminary associated with the mosque were killed in this attack.

The Taliban and al-Qaeda claim they are to blame for all the suicide attacks. Despite several military operations launched by the Pakistan army, often with the cooperation of the United States of America, the Pakistani government has totally failed to control the suicide bombings, and the insurgency is increasing with each passing day.

This attack occurred even as the Pakistan army is getting ready to launch another massive military operation in North Waziristan, an offensive that was in great demand by the United States to combat the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

This recent attack signals there are severe risks of more attacks in other cities of Pakistan. Experts and the media expect that the militants are once again flexing their muscles and will continue to do so. In the past whenever the Pakistan army was ready to launch any military operation against the terrorists in the border areas, attacks by the militants increased to demoralize the Pakistani forces and to create panic in the public.

Malik Ayub Sumbal is a freelance journalist based in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Photo: AP Images