Aftermath of the suicide attack in Peshawar on Sept. 26, 2009. AP Photo.
The Taliban killed 20 people and wounded more than 100 in two suicide attacks in the Northwest Frontier Province. The suicide bombers detonated vehicles packed with explosives in the cities of Peshawar and Bannu.
In the Bannu attack, a suicide bomber rammed his truck into a police station, killing 10 people and wounding dozens more. Bannu is the gateway to the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. Two days ago, the Taliban killed seven pro-government tribal leaders in Jani Khel who had raised a militia to oppose the extremists. Al Qaeda is known to have hosted its executive shura, or council, in Jani Khel and to deposit money in a bank there.
In the Peshawar attack, a suicide bomber detonated his car outside a bank and a housing complex where soldiers and officers live. Ten people were reported killed and more than 75 were wounded. More people are thought to be trapped in the rubble.
A senior Taliban commander who runs suicide training camps for children took credit for the Bannu attack.
“The government was taking undue advantage of our silence,” Qari Hussain Mehsud told Reuters, referring to the lull in attacks in the northwest since the beginning of the month. “We will carry out more such attacks and these will be much more powerful.”
Qari Hussain spoke to the Associated Press yesterday and warned that more attacks would occur if the military did not halt its operations against the Taliban.
“We have enough suicide bombers, and they are asking me to let them sacrifice their lives in the name of Islam, but we will send suicide bombers only if the government acts against us,” Qari Hussain told the news agency. He also expressed his admiration for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar during the interview.
The Taliban have conducted multiple suicide and armed attacks in and around Peshawar this year. The military has launched several operations in Peshawar and the neighboring tribal agency of Khyber in an attempt to relieve the Taliban pressure on the provincial capital.
The last suicide attack in Pakistan’s northwest took place in the district of Kohat on Sept. 18. In that strike, 33 Pakistanis were killed.
The Taliban have carried out only two other large-scale suicide attacks in the last month. On Aug. 30, a suicide bomber killed 16 cadets in an attack on a training center in Swat. On Aug. 27, A suicide bomber killed 22 border guards at the Torkham crossing in Khyber.
In the winter and spring of this year, the Taliban were averaging between three to four suicide attacks a week before Pakistani security forces launched a major offensive in the Swat Valley and smaller raids in Khyber, Mohmand, Aurakzai, Bajaur, Bannu, and South Waziristan.