A suicide bomber has killed more than 60 people today while Taliban fighters killed three more people in a hand grenade attack at a mosque in the latest attacks at religious gatherings in Pakistan. The Taliban took credit for the suicide attack and said it was aimed at members of a “peace council” opposed to Taliban rule.
The suicide bomber detonated his vest outside of the Waali Mosque in the frontier city of Darra Adam Khel in northwestern Pakistan. The bomber targeted the Pakistanis as they were leaving the mosque after Friday prayers, ensuring the maximum number of casualties.
Sixty people have been killed and more than 100 others have been wounded, some critically, Pakistani officials said.
In a second attack, Taliban fighters tossed three hand grenades inside of a mosque in the Suleman Khel area of Badhber, just outside of Peshawar, the provincial capital. Twenty-six people were also wounded.
The Taliban and allied terror groups have been behind the attacks on religious sites in Pakistan. Minority groups such Ahmadis, a sect of Islam that is illegal in Pakistan, and Christians, have been targeted, as well as the majority Barelvis, who are hated by terror groups for practicing Sufism and their opposition to the Taliban. Sufi shrines have been a major target of the attacks.
The Taliban have also attacked mosques where tribal leaders gather to organize opposition to the terror group, as well as sites where government officials, police, and military officers worship.
Taliban commander Tariq Afridi claimed the suicide attack in Darra Adam Khel and said it targeted tribal leaders who opposed the Taliban.
“The mosque was targeted because most of the worshippers were the member of government sponsored peace council, aiming to eliminate the Taliban,” Afridi told AKI.
There are two major Taliban groups based in Darra Adam Khel, the Commander Tariq Group and the Omar Group.
Commander Tariq Group group is considered the most powerful outfit in the Arakzai tribal agency, and is based in Darra Adam Khel. It is led by Tariq Afridi, who is the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in Khyber, as well as in regions in Peshawar, Kohat, and Hangu. Afridi was named the terror group’s commander of Khyber in November 2009. The Tariq Afridi Group also conducts attacks on Pakistani security forces in Arakzai, Kohat, and Hangu. His fighters were responsible for closing down the Kohat Tunnel twice in 2008. In early 2009, the Commander Tariq Afridi Group claimed the murder and beheading of Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak.
The Omar Group is also based in Darra Adam Khel. This major Taliban group has conducted attacks in the regions around Peshawar.
Taliban target religious sites
Over the past few years, the Taliban and allied Pakistani terror groups have shown no reservations about striking inside mosques and other religious sites, as well as during religious processions and events [see list below]. There have been 29 major attacks on mosques and other Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007, according to information compiled by The Long War Journal.
One of the most brazen attacks took place on Dec. 4, 2009, when a suicide assault team stormed a mosque frequented by military officers in Rawalpindi. Two senior generals were among the 40 people killed.
Terror groups have continued to target Pakistani religious institutions this year. On July 1, suicide bombers struck the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine in Lahore, killing 41 people and wounding more than 170. Three suicide bombers detonated their vests at the shrine at a time when it is most frequented.
More recently, on Aug. 23, a suicide bomber detonated inside a mosque in Wana in South Waziristan. In the attack, over 30 people, including a pro-government and pro-Taliban former member of parliament, were killed.
And on Oct. 7, two suicide bombers killed eight people at a Sufi shrine in in Karachi.
The last such attack took place just over on week ago, on Oct. 25, when a bomb was detonated inside a shrine in Pakpattan, killing five people and wounding dozens more.
Major attacks at mosques, religious events, and Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007:
Nov. 5, 2010: Fifty people were killed in a suicide attack outside a mosque in Darra Adam Khel.
Oct. 25, 2010: Five people were killed when an IED was detonated inside a shrine in Pakpattan.
Oct. 22, 2010: Five people were killed when an IED was detonated inside a mosque in Peshawar.
Oct. 7, 2010: Two suicide bombers killed eight people in a coordinated attack on the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in Karachi.
Sept. 3, 2010: A suicide bomber attempted to storm a mosque in Mardan, but was stopped by security guards. One person was killed after he detonated his vest.
Sept. 1, 2010: Suicide bombers detonated during Shia religious processions in Lahore, killing 28 people.
Aug. 23, 2010: A suicide bomber detonated at a mosque in Wana, South Waziristan, killing 18 people.
July 1, 2010: Suicide bombers detonated at the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine in Lahore, killing 41 people and wounding more than 170.
May 28, 2010: The Punjabi Taliban assaulted two Ahamadi mosques in Lahore, killing more than 70 people.
Dec. 18, 2009: A suicide bomber detonated inside a mosque frequented by policemen in Lower Dir, killing 12.
Dec. 4, 2009: A suicide assault team stormed a mosque in Rawalpindi that is frequented by Army officers, killing 40.
Oct. 20, 2009: A pair of suicide bombers detonated their vests at Islamabad’s International Islamic University, killing five.
June 12, 2009: A suicide bomber killed five Pakistanis, including anti-Taliban cleric Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi, in an attack on a mosque in Lahore during Friday prayers.
June 12, 2009: A suicide bomber killed six worshipers and wounded more than 90 in an attack inside a mosque in Nowshera. The attack collapsed the dome of the mosque.
June 5, 2009: A suicide bomber killed 49 worshipers in an attack on a mosque in a remote village in Dir.
April 5, 2009: A suicide bomber killed 24 worshipers and wounded more than 100 in an attack outside a Shia religious center in the Chakwal district in Punjab province.
March 27, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber killed more than 70 worshipers and wounded more than 125 in an attack at a mosque in the Khyber tribal agency.
March 5, 2009: An attacker threw a hand grenade into the middle of a mosque in Dera Ismail Khan, wounding 25 worshipers.
March 2, 2009: A suicide bomber killed six people during an attack at a gathering in a mosque in the Pishin district in Baluchistan.
Feb. 20, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 32 Pakistanis and wounded more than 85 in an attack on a funeral procession for a Shia elder who was murdered in Dera Ismail Khan.
Feb. 5, 2009: A suicide attack outside a mosque killed more than 30 Shia worshipers and wounded more than 50.
Nov. 22, 2008: A bombing at a mosque in Hangu killed five civilians and wounded seven.
Nov. 21, 2008: A suicide attack on a funeral procession in Dera Ismail Khan killed 10 mourners and wounded more than 25.
Sept. 10, 2008: The Taliban attacked a mosque filled with Ramadan worshipers in the district of Dir in northwestern Pakistan. More than 25 worshipers were killed and more than 50 were wounded.
Aug. 19, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 29 Shia mourners and wounded 35 after detonating in the emergency ward of a hospital.
June 17, 2008: Four Pakistanis were killed and three wounded in a bombing at a Shia mosque in Dera Ismail Khan.
May 19, 2008: Four Pakistanis were killed in a bombing outside a mosque in Bajaur.
Jan. 17, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 10 and wounded 25 in an attack on a Shia mosque in Peshawar.
Dec. 28, 2007: A suicide bomber detonated in the middle of a mosque in Charsadda in an attempt to kill former Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao as he conducted Eid prayers. More than 50 were killed and more than 200 were wounded.