Hundreds die after terror attacks in Pakistan

October 25th, 2007

Last week, a suicide bomb detonated inside a mosque, killing at least 12 people in northwestern Pakistan. The attack also left 25 wounded, with casualties including children and soldiers.

According to The New York Times, the fresh wave of violence in Pakistan was triggered by the recent events at Islamabad’s Red Mosque, where the military fought against Islamic extremists held up in the mosque.

Attack in Pakistan

Violence also erupted last week as former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto arrived back in the country. Two bombs went off in a procession welcoming her back to the country after eight years in exile.

Her bullet-proof bus was nearby when the blasts happened. She was unhurt and was taken to her house in the city, but at least 115 people were killed and almost 150 others wounded, according to The Associated Press.

Recently, a car packed with explosives rammed into the gates of a police training center killing 27 people. Since late last week, attacks targeting Pakistani security forces have killed more than 100 people, authorities said.

The attacks have come as a result of Pakistan’s inability to contain a rising Islamic militancy in the lawless tribal regions along the Afghan border in northwestern Pakistan.

Violence linked to militants has killed more than 1,000 people in a little over three weeks with the majority of which happening near the border, according to The AP.

Of the militants, some are al-Qaida, some are Taliban, and others are homegrown. President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has wavered in the past between attacking the militants and negotiating peace deals with them. The deals struck in 2005 and 2006 have been blamed for a reconstituted al-Qaida in the region and a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

The deals reached took a hit when Musharraf removed a controversial chief justice from his position on March 9, accusing him of misusing his powers. The dismissal sparked widespread demonstrations by the country’s attorneys and those who believe Musharraf wrongly suspended Pakistan’s top judge.

To make matters worse, militants linked to the Taliban from the area near the Afghan border have said the truce reached with the Pakistani government last September is off.

The National Intelligence Estimate reported last Tuesday that al-Qaida has “protected or regenerated key elements” of its capability to attack the United States while in this safe haven.

Sven Dubie, professor in the History Department at John Carroll University, believes the U.S. should cooperate in unison with the Pakistan government to deal with the increased violence. “Ideally, we would work in tandem with Pakistan to root out the terrorists,” Dubie said.

U.S. intelligence officials now say al-Qaida has established a “safe haven” in Waziristan, just over the border in Pakistan and that Osama bin Laden is believed to be in the area.

Lee Hamilton, vice chairman of the 9/11 commission, recently stated in The Washington Post, “I am very concerned that you have a safe haven in Pakistan today where they [al-Qaida] can regroup, rethink, and get ready for more attacks.” Under increased pressure to limit the spread of Taliban and al-Qaida in Pakistan’s tribal regions, Musharraf has now vowed to fight against terrorism no matter what province.