Remnants of the car used in the suicide attack in Kamra. AP photo.
As the Pakistani military continues the slow push to regain control of the settled district of Swat, suicide bombers struck in two locations, one at a sensitive weapons facility near Islamabad. The most deadly attack occurred in Swat in the Northwest Frontier Province after a suicide bomber hit a police checkpoint near Matta, where the Pakistani Army just established a presence. Ten were killed, including two children and three police.
But the attack at a Pakistani Air Force base in Kamra, while only injuring seven, has far more serious implications. The Kamra complex is a likely location for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. The suicide bomber targeted a bus filled with 35 children of Pakistani Air Force officers. The driver, a conductor, and five children were wounded in the strike.
Global Security notes the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra is one of the Air Force sites likely associated with Pakistan nuclear weapons development.
The Wah Cantonment Ordnance Complex consists of three nearby armament facilities in Wah (Pakistan Ordnance Factories – POF), Kamra (Air Weapon Complex – AWC), and Taxilia (Heavy Industries Taxila -HIT). One or more of these facilities is probably associated with the weaponization of Pakistan’s nuclear devices. According to some reports, the main storage and maintenance site of the Pakistani nuclear weapons, particularly the weapons at a ‘screwdriver level’, is located at the ‘ordnance complex’ in Wah. …
The Air Weapon Complex at Kamra is devoted to air-to-surface munitions, among other activities, and would probably have at least some connection with the development of air-delivered nuclear weapons. … The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) was almost certainly responsible for the modification of Pakistani aircraft, probably including F-16 fighters, to a configuration capable of delivering air-dropped nuclear weapons.
While Taliban and al Qaeda suicide bombers have targeted secure military facilities over the past year, it is unclear if the suicide attack was a target of opportunity or a demonstration of the groups’ capacity to penetrate security at sensitive locations.
On November 1, a suicide bomber killed eight at Pakistani airbase in Sargodha in the province of Punjab. Two days prior, an al Qaeda suicide bomber killed eight in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. A pair of suicide bombing in the military garrison city of Rawalpindi on September 4 killed 25 and wounded 68. Pakistani military and intelligence officers were the direct target of twin bombings. A series of other attacks focused on military, intelligence, and police targets throughout the country as the Taliban and al Qaeda attempt to gain control of the Northwest Frontier Province and beyond.
The largest suicide attack so far targeted former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Karachi on the day she returned from exile. The sophisticated, multipronged ambush included suicide bombers, roadside bombers, and snipers. Over 136 were killed and 500-plus wounded. The Taliban and al Qaeda also conducted suicide attacks against Prime Minister Aziz and Interior Minister Sherpao. The Taliban also attempted to shoot down President Musharraf’s airplane as he departed the airport in Rawalpindi. Musharraf has been the target of several assassination attempts since 2003.
In July, al Qaeda spokesman Abu Yahya al Libi called for the Pakistani people and the military to rise up against the Musharraf regime. Al Libi was later reinforced by both al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his second in command Ayman al Zawahiri. Al Qaeda is clearly looking to overthrow President Musharraf, with the ultimate prize being the state of Pakistan and its nuclear weapons stocks.
See The Fall of Northwestern Pakistan for additional information on al Qaeda and the Taliban insurgency inside Pakistan.