Yesterday’s ghastly attack at an Imambargah has again highlighted the agenda of the terror-mongers. They want to eliminate all the minorities, plurality of Pakistani population
DECLAN WALSH reporting from the Guardian in Islamabad
A SUICIDE blast ripped through a crowd outside a Shia mosque south of Islamabad yesterday, killing at least 22 people and wounding dozens more.
The explosion in Chakwal, 80km from the capital, happened as the country reeled from a weekend of renewed Taliban violence that underscored how the struggle for control of Pakistan is penetrating deeper into the country.
On Saturday night in Islamabad, a Taliban suicide bomber penetrated a paramilitary camp in a wealthy residential area, killing six soldiers and two civilians.
In Chakwal yesterday, a teenage boy dressed in black tried to force his way through a crowd of about 2,000 people gathered outside an Imambargah, or Shia place of worship. After security guards challenged him, he blew himself up.
The blast scattered body parts across a wide area outside the mosque. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Islamabad blast while an affiliated group, Fedayeen al-Islam, claimed the second.
“This is very serious,” said Ayaz Amir, an MP for Chakwal, speaking by phone from a city hospital filled with badly wounded victims. “Now the war is coming to Punjab.” A spate of blasts during the past week in Punjab province, the heart of political and military power, and the appearance of a video tape showing the flogging under sharia law of a 17-year-old girl, have sharpened the public response to the Taliban threat.
Thousands took to the streets of Lahore to protest at the flogging, while spontaneous street protests erupted in Chakwal and Rawalpindi after the mosque attack.
“Something has changed,” said Raza Rumi, an analyst and blogger from Lahore. “Prior to the release of the video the right-wing media led people to believe the Taliban was a reaction to American drone attacks. Now a lot of people are scared.”
The attack in Chakwal underscored how sectarian and Taliban violence are becoming increasingly interlinked. A spokesman for Fedayeen al-Islam, a shadowy organisation linked to the Taliban and responsible for last September’s bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, said the bombing was part of a “campaign against infidels”.
The claim exposed the Sunni extremist mindset of the Taliban. “It would be wrong to call this a sectarian blast,” said Mr Amir. “This is a Taliban terrorist attack.”
Saturday’s bombing in Islamabad was the second attack in a fortnight on the capital’s security forces. Hakimullah, a Taliban commander in Orakzai tribal agency, claimed responsibility, saying it was in retaliation for US drone strikes in the tribal belt. He vowed to carry out two suicide bombings per week.
Courtesy Guardian service