Terror drama unfolds in Lahore
Two suicide bombers targeting Army vehicles detonated explosives within seconds of each other on Friday, killing at least 45 people and wounding 100, police said. It was the fourth major attack in Pakistan this week, indicating Islamist militants are stepping up violence after a period of relative calm.
Hours later, a series of five small explosions terrified residents in another Lahore neighbourhood and injured at least three. Police officials said the four low-intensity blasts apparently resulted from loose explosives — not packed bombs —scattered through the residential area. While the explosions sent police and rescue workers racing through the area, there were no immediate reports of deaths or major damage.
About 10 of those killed in the twin blasts were soldiers, said Lahore police chief Parvaiz Rathore.
The bombers struck R A Bazaar, a residential and commercial neighbourhood where several security agencies have facilities.
Video being shot with a mobile phone just after the first explosion showed a large burst of orange flame suddenly erupting in the street, according to GEO TV, which broadcast a short clip of the footage shot by Tabraiz Bukhari.
“Oh my God! Oh my God! Who are these beasts? Oh my God!” Bukhari can be heard shouting after the blast.
Senior police official Chaudhry Mohammad Shafiq said 43 people were killed and about 100 were injured. Some of the wounded were missing limbs, lying in pools of blood after the explosions, eyewitness Afzal Awan said. No group immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion quickly fell on the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda.
On Monday, a suicide bomber struck a building in Lahore where police interrogated high-value suspects — including militants — killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.
Who is responsible?
Source: Long War Journal
While no group has claimed credit for the attack, the Taliban is the prime suspect. The Punjabi branch of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan said it carried out the March 8 suicide attack in Lahore that targeted the headquarters of the Federal Investigation Agency, a law enforcement agency that targets terror groups. The Punjabi Taliban said the March 8 attack strike was carried out to avenge the death of Qari Mohammed Zafar, the leader of the al Qaeda- and Taliban-linked Fedayeen-i-Islam, who was killed in a US airstrike in North Waziristan on Feb. 24.
In the recent past the Taliban have targeted military personnel and family members in cantonment in Pakistan’s cities. One of the most high-profile attacks took place in a mosque in the military garrison city of Rawalpindi on December 4, 2009. More than 40 officers, soldiers, and family members were killed in the blast.
Today’s suicide attack is the third this week. Yesterday a suicide bomber detonated his vest prematurely in Peshawar, killing five people. The bomber was targeting a Frontier Corps convoy as it passed through a checkpoint, but he tripped and accidentally detonated his vest.
The military has claimed that the Taliban’s leadership has been dismantled and that the movement is disjointed and unable to conduct operations after the military’s offensives in Swat, Bajaur, and South Waziristan. But the Taliban have regrouped in North Waziristan, Arakzai, Khyber, Kurram, and regions in South Waziristan still under Taliban control, and its top leaders remain free.
Background on jihadist groups in South Punjab
Source: Long War Journal
South Punjab is a hotbed of Pakistani terror groups. Banned terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, and its radical offshoot Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are all active in South Punjab. These groups have taken up common cause with the Taliban and al Qaeda, and are often referred to as the Punjabi Taliban. The terror groups have been supported by Pakistan’s military and the ISI.
South Punjab teems with radical mosques and madrassas, which are used to indoctrinate Pakistani youths to join the jihad. Tens of thousands of members of these terror groups who have gone through training camps are said to be active in South Punjab.
The Pakistani government has denied that terror groups are based in South Punjab. In December 2009, the Punjabi provincial government barred foreign reporters from South Punjab, insisting that all reporters must obtain permits before reporting from the area.
“All foreign journalists are required to get permission from foreign affairs as well as from interior ministries for visiting any specific place especially in South Punjab,” a senior officer of the Punjab government told the Press Trust of India. The official claimed that journalists published “twisted and unfounded” facts about terror groups operating there.
What does PML-N’s government in Punjab say?
Pakistan’s main opposition PML-N (currently in government in Punjab province) asked the federal government to review its policy on the war against terrorism, saying it is resulting in the killing of innocent people.
“It would be better for us to withdraw our support to the US’s war on terror policy as hundreds of innocent Pakistanis are losing their lives,” said PML-N parliamentarian Saad Rafiq, a close aide of party chief Nawaz Sharif.
Rafiq said Pakistan has suffered irreparable losses, in both human and financial terms, due to its support for the war on terror.
“We need to find a political solution to this problem. Our government and the army need to frame a consensus policy after taking all stakeholders on board,” he said.
The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), which is considered close to right-wing religious parties, has never openly backed the ruling Pakistan People’s Party-led government’s war on terror.
“The PPP government’s policy for the war on terror is a continuation of the policy of (former military ruler Pervez) Musharraf and needs to be immediate reviewed,” Rafiq said.
What does PPP say?
Political parties recently criticised the PML-N after senior party leader and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah met and travelled with leaders of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan group while campaigning for by-polls in Jhang district.
“The PML-N should stop patronising banned outfits as it will harm the federal government’s policy for the war on terror,” Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer said.
What do Pakistani bloggers think?
My dear Countrymen it is the outcome of the rule of the Generals. Unless we control them there will be no peace. Unfortunately this country is ruled by USA through Generals. Please mark my words, this country was broken by the Generals and God forbid it will again be broken by Generals. The civilian Govt is just a symbolic , every thing is being dictated by Generals. Please get rid of there rule.
Innah Lillah e Wa Inna Ilehe Rajioon
Arrest Rana Sanaullah..He is friends with the terrorists
All security for Shareefs , rest are on their own.
No one will blame banned outfits. bcoz now their affiliation with banned outfits is exposed.
Punjab Govt should resign over this yet another failure of security. When terrorists attacked Sri Lnakan cricket team, everyone demanded Salman Taseer resignation. So stop your double standards and we should all demand resignation of Shabaz Sharif.
Mulla Nafs e Zakkiya said:
i strongly believe this is retaliation of some ISI elements against Military Intelligence, Military Intelligence handed over a hand full of afgan taliban’s yesterday to Karzai, and this is the ISI’s retaliation…..
in the heart of Pakistan…plus this puts pressure of Zardari too for making such decisions…
ex isi official has filed a report in courts a few days ago to stop the handing over of these talib leaders did you guys know that ?
If our security agencies want to fight their proxy wars through these miltants in Afghanistan and India they have to pay the price at home. Indians and Afghanis will use their resources to beef up attacks inside Pakistan. As Wali Khan if you send bullet accross the border don’t expect flowers in return.
A warning for people of Pakistan who still trust and listen to Gen Hameed Gul, Imran Khan, Rana Sannaulah and others like him. Where are these friends and helpers of Talibans , Sipah- Sahaba and other extremists parties now hiding, what are they going to say to the loved ones of dead and injured who are the innocent victom of this brutal acts of terrorism.
Are they going to blame India and US again instead of speaking the truth.
I hope we catch the real criminals involved in the bombings and hang them on every intersection of Lahore.
What can Zardari and Nawaz Sharif do here? After Nawaz Sharif showed door to COAS in the wake of Kargil he was almost hanged. Zardari is still under threat after his civilian supermacy dreams through KLB. Let’s call spade a spade. Its Gen. Kiyani and co. vision that we are paying heavy price for.
Talat Hussein today alid all the blame on civilian leadership. He blamed tussle between Shahbaz Sharif and Salman Taseer, political issues in center and Punjab for urban terrorism. He also said Army can not be blammed for this.
Yesterday someone asked why I hate Talat. That’s the reason my friend. He does not see GHQ policies as source of all this. He only sees Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Shareef’s political tension as the core issue.
All these GHQ sponsored pundits are part of problem.
Isn’t it sad that instead of using some brains and facts to find out the culprits of this barbaric act we have engaged in petty talk.
To all Army/ISI bashers hundreds of army personnel have laid down their lives in this brutal massacre by maniacs and those personnel also include high ranking officers and even their children in mosques. Stop this senseless tirade of blaming this party or that party. It is a national problem and we have to deal with it with unity.
It is time that we also condemn and stop supporting, watching/reading supporters of terrorism like Imran Khan, Shahid Masood, Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi, Munawwar Hassan, Maulivi Fazlur Rehman, Nawai Waqt group etc. Damn them and I hope that these people will come to the right path before some terrorist blows one of them away too.
Welcome back. Its good to see your comment after ages.
I appreciate your progressive vision and your strong sentiments. I have read your hundreds of comments but I don’t recall any single comment where you had criticised GHQ. You criticise all political forces from extreme right to extreme left and everyone in-between very much like Tallat Hussein. It’s not just Hamid Gul and co. many in our active Army leadership still treat Taliban, specifically Afghan Taliban, as an assett to extend their influence to Kabul and still sponsor Lashker e Tayiba to conquer Srinagar. The present turmoil is bcaz of these inner struggles among military ranks – crush Taliban or protect them as strategic asset. You are praying for unnity in nation we don’t have unity among our men in uniform but like Talat you seem to be bound, you don’t say a word about Army’s role. Like you I also appreciate Army’s sacrifice but there is other side of Army that you completely overlook.
So Talibans are blowing Army buildings bcaz Shahbaz Sharif doesn’t like Salman Taseer OR Zardari and Nawaz Sharif are not on same page???
What about GHQ’s ddouble cross – for and against America, for and against Taliban/alqaeda?
God bless both you and Talat and give you guys courrage to speak up against the root cause of problem – GHQ’s confused world view.
deh aur dil unn ko jo na deh mujh ko zuban aur