Chinese engineers targeted in Hub, Pakistani army attacked in Hangu and Kohat
The Taliban campaign against Pakistani government and military targets is intensifying. Three more suicide attacks were conducted in western Pakistan today, resulting in over 56 killed and 56 wounded. The suicide bombers targeted a police college in Hangu, a mosque in Kohat in the Northwest Frontier Province, and a convoy transporting Chinese engineers in the town of Hub in Baluchistan.
At least eight people were killed and 26 wounded in the suicide attack on the Police Training College in the Northwest Frontier Province district of Hangu. The bomber drove his explosive-laden car into the main gate of the training facility. Ten of those wounded are said to be in critical condition, and the local hospital is operating under emergency conditions, The News reported. Hangu borders North Waziristan, where the Taliban have been waging a campaign against the government. A second suicide attack in the district of Kohat targeted a mosque inside an army training center; 18 were reported killed and 15 wounded.
In Hub in Baluchistan province, a suicide bomber attacked a convoy transporting Chinese engineers. Over 30 were killed in the attack, including 8 policemen, and another 30 wounded. The bus carrying the Chinese engineers was not damaged in the attack. “The huge explosion also destroyed 15 vehicles and motorbikes and damaged 25 nearby houses and shops,” The News reported. There are over 3,000 Chinese working on engineering projects in Pakistan, and the Chinese have been the target of Taliban attacks in the past.
Today’s suicide attacks follow a week of strikes against government and political targets. At least 146 were killed and over 220 wounded in the major attacks since July 14. The vast majority of those killed were soldiers or police.
Yesterday, the Taliban conducted two separate ambushes against military convoys in North Waziristan. Seventeen soldiers were killed in the ambush. A spate of small arms and roadside bombings also occurred yesterday in North Waziristan.
A suicide bomber killed 13 and wounded 30 during an attack on a political gathering at the Islamabad Court on July 17. Pakistan’s chief justice, who was suspended by President Pervez Musharraf on March 9 for misconduct, was scheduled to speak at the event.
A pair of suicide attacks occurred in Swat and Dera Ismail Khan on July 15. Sixteen were killed, including 12 Pakistani soldiers and four civilians, and 40 were wounded after a pair of suicide bombers rammed their cars into a convoy near the town of Matta in Swat. In Dera Ismail Khan, a suicide bomber killed 20 police recruits and wounded 50 during an attack near the main hall of the police recruitment center, as about 200 recruits were being tested.
A suicide bomber killed 24 paramilitary soldiers and wounded 29 in an attack on a Pakistani army convoy heading to Miramshah in North Waziristan on July 14.
The attacks in the Northwest Frontier Province are clearly designed to intimidate the local security forces and prevent new recruits from joining the police and army, while directly challenging the writ of the government.
The Pakistani government is under attack from an insurgency as well-organized and lethal as the insurgency in Iraq. At this point in time, the Pakistani government is refusing to fight back, and its troops are taking heavy casualties at rates far greater than during the operations in the tribal areas from 2004 to 2006. After the series of “peace deals” with the Taliban in North and South Waziristan, Bajaur, and Swat, the Taliban and al Qaeda have consolidated their power and grown in strength. The Pakistani security forces are bearing the brunt of these peace deals at the moment.