Taliban suicide bomber strikes at Pakistani hospital, kills 29


Just one day after Pervez Musharraf's resignation as the president of Pakistan, the Taliban conducted a deadly strike in the settled district of Dera Ishmael Khan. A Taliban suicide bomber killed 29 Pakistanis and wounded 35 in an attack at the Emergency Ward of District Headquarters Hospital.

Most of those killed were family members visiting the body of a man murdered by the Taliban in a bazaar earlier that day. "The people had gathered around his dead body when the bomber blew himself up," the Associated Press of Pakistan reported. Five policemen were also killed in the attack.

The Taliban have taken credit for the hospital suicide bombing. An unnamed Taliban spokesman "accepted the responsibility for the blast and warned to carry out more such explosions if operations in Swat and Bajaur were not halted," the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

The Taliban have repeatedly threatened to reinitiate suicide and bombing attacks throughout Pakistan if the government did not cease military operations in Swat and Bajaur. Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud had previously threatened wage "jihad" and turn the provinces of Sindh and Punjab "into a furnace" if the operations did not cease. The Taliban cowed the Pakistani government into signing peace agreements after a vicious suicide and military campaign in 2007 and early 2008 that claimed thousands of Pakistani lives.

Today's attack is the third major bombing in Pakistan since Aug. 12. Nine Pakistanis, including five policemen, were killed and more than 35 were wounded after a suicide bomber struck during Pakistan's Independence Day celebration in the city of Lahore in Punjab province on Aug. 13.

The day prior, the Taliban took credit for a deadly bus bombing on a Pakistani Air Force bus in Peshawar. Thirteen Pakistanis, including 10 security officials, were killed and more than a dozen were wounded in the provincial capital of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province.

The hospital attack highlights the deteriorating security situation in the Northwest Frontier Province as the Taliban asserts control outside the tribal areas. Dera Ishmail Khan borders the South Waziristan tribal agencies, which is under the control of Baitullah, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban. Tank, which also borders Dera Ishmail Khan and South Waziristan, is effectively under Taliban control.

The government has signed deals with the Taliban in six of the seven tribal agencies that border Afghanistan. Only in Kurram, where the Shia tribes are fighting al Qaeda and Taliban-supported Sunni groups, has yet to fall to the Taliban.

Background on recent peace agreements between the government and the Taliban

The security situation in northwestern Pakistan and in neighboring Afghanistan has rapidly deteriorated since the government initiated its latest round of peace accords with the Taliban and allied extremists in the tribal areas and settled districts in the Northwest Frontier Province. Peace agreements have been signed with the Taliban in North Waziristan, Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Malakand, Mohmand, Khyber, and Orakzai.

Negotiations are underway in South Waziristan, Kohat, and Mardan. The Taliban have violated the terms of these agreements in every region where accords have been signed.

The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established 157 training camps and more than 400 support locations in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.

On July 23, Prime Minister Syed Yusaf Raza Gilani and his cabinet were told that more than 8,000 foreign fighters were operating in the tribal areas.



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban suicide bomber strikes at Pakistani hospital, kills 29"

Posted by meaux at August 19, 2008 4:36 PM ET:

And, where are the nukes?

Under who's supervision are they currently?

m

Posted by Alex at August 19, 2008 5:07 PM ET:

Hopefully, a way undercover CIA or NEST team with orders to destroy the devices in case things get too heated. Of course, there is no way that we would ever avow an operation like that, so we can only guess.

Things are bad in Pakistan right now, but they could be worse. For the Taliban to get a hold of the nukes, they 'd have to get into a stand-up fight with the Pakistani Army. This happens from time to time in the NWFP, but not really beyond. Soft targets and civilians in order to terrorize and intimidate, but not an outright coup. Yet. And hopefully never.

Posted by ST333 at August 19, 2008 5:11 PM ET:

At what point does the Pakistani Government strafe and/or carpet bomb a large swath of the NWFP? When a suicide bomber goes into a hospital to kill people mourning, you have to realize you are dealing with animals, not reasonable people. How they continue these exercises in futility by striking these "Peace Accords" is beyond me. If they know where Mehsud is, that's the area that needs to be destroyed. Sure civilian casualties will be high, but what can you do? Forget reasoning with these filthy animals, they only understand pain.

Posted by Liberterian at August 19, 2008 6:57 PM ET:

We cannot be certain that the majority of Sunni Pakistanis oppose the Taliban; it appears that a significant minority support Islamic Terrorism; if this is true, then we are a long way before the civilian population of Pakistan reaches the same conclusions that the Iraqis reached after much agony and fear. Unfortunately thousands of ordinary Pakistanis will be killed, maimed and enslaved before popular opinion( i.e the opinion of the bitter, illiterate, very poor citizens) turns against the terrorists

Posted by kw64 at August 20, 2008 1:01 AM ET:

Right now, the government of Pakistan is divided and distracted; so there is no focus on the challenge in the tribal areas. The general population is indifferent to the tribal areas. More bombings like the one in the hospital will change both conditions eventually. That is the only hope to be found in such things.

Posted by Neo at August 20, 2008 3:18 AM ET:

Most Pakistani's wanted to be rid of President Musharraf. For better or worse they have their wish. Pity those that actually thought it would solve anything. Less than a day later, reality rudely belches in Pakistan's face. Talk about raining on your own parade. I thought the Taliban had something to celebrate or at least curtail the bombings a bit while a savor the moment. If the Taliban keeps these indiscriminant bombings up, even the religious parties might see them for the madmen they are. On the other hand, why blame the actual perpetrators when there are so many others on which they can sublimate their anguish. The public is fickle that way.

Of course this is the whole purpose behind terrorism, to slap an enemy and make it terribly difficult to slap back. The terrorist's enemy becomes frustrated and disheartened and finds easier targets closer to home to slap at. Pakistan isn't unusual in this respect. It is only more vulnerable. When the US is again struck by terrorism much of the blame will be aimed at domestic political opponents rather than the actual perpetrators. This goes for both sides of the American political scene. The party out of power will blame the party in power. The masses will blame the political class. When things get ugly, and people feel powerless, there is little sensibility about who gets blamed or proportionality about how much of the blame they get. People often find it easier to unload all the blame on the usual suspects and avoid reality. We're deep into it already.

Posted by rifat at August 20, 2008 5:21 PM ET:

its very strange that pakistani media claim that there is an operation going on in swat, bajour etc. i don't about the bajour but being a local i would like to present some facts regarding military operation in sawat. There is strange trend have been seen by locals in the operation whenever the military launch an attack on taliban they always left that place. did there are some elements in the military providing information to the millitants? In some places even the militants are let off by the military? is this a real operatiion against the military or only a drama to be shown to west to get more aid .