A suicide bomber killed 15 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a funeral in the Pakistani city of Peshawar today. The attack appears to have targeted a senior provincial government official who has raised an anti-Taliban militia in the area.
Pakistani officials confirmed that a suicide bomber carried out today’s attack as mourners were offering prayers for a woman during a funeral in the Badaber area of Peshawar. More than 30 people are reported to have been wounded, AFP reported.
The target of the attack appears to have been Khushdil Khan, the deputy speaker of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s provincial assembly, who was in attendance, police told AFP. He was not wounded in the attack. Khan is also a senior leader of the Awami National Party and has raised an anti-Taliban militia in the Peshawar area.
The Awami National Party has opposed the spread of the Taliban in the northwest and leads the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Taliban have targeted numerous officials from the Awami National Party in suicide attacks at mosques and funerals over the past several years. Khan is said to be on the Taliban’s hit list.
Throughout the northwest, local Pakistani tribal leaders have raised tribal militias, or lashkars, to oppose the spread of the Taliban. But the terror group has countered by ruthlessly attacking tribal meetings and killing senior leaders. The largest such attack against tribal leaders took place in December 2010, when a suicide bomber killed 50 people and wounded more than 100 in an attack on a government official’s office in Ghalalnai, the administrative seat of the tribal agency of Mohmand. In January 2011, a suicide bomber killed 37 people attending the funeral of a relative of Hakeem Khan, a Pashtun tribal leader who has raised a local militia against the Taliban in the Matni area in Peshawar.
Over the past several years, the Taliban have mounted a savage campaign against tribal leaders in the greater northwest who oppose them. Tribal opposition has been violently attacked and defeated in Peshawar, Dir, Arakzai, Khyber, and Swat. Suicide bombers have struck at tribal meetings held at mosques, schools, hotels, and homes. [See LWJ report, Anti-Taliban tribal militia leader assassinated in Pakistan’s northwest, for more information on the difficulties of raising tribal lashkars in Pakistan’s northwest.]
Taliban and allies target religious sites
Over the past five years, the Taliban and allied Pakistani terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Punjabi Taliban have shown no reservations about striking inside mosques and other religious sites, as well as during religious processions and events. There have been 36 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.
Another major attack took place on July 1, 2010, when 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 was most frequented, in an effort to maximize casualties.
The last major attack against religious targets took place on Sept. 15, 2011, when a suicide bomber killed 31 people in an attack at a funeral in Lower Dir.
Major attacks at mosques, religious events, and Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007:
March 11, 2012: A suicide bomber killed 15 people at a funeral in Peshawar. The target of the attack appears to have been the deputy speaker of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s provincial assembly, who has also raised an anti-Taliban militia.
Sept. 15, 2011: A suicide bomber detonated his vest in a crowd of mourners at a funeral in Lower Dir, killing 31 people.
Aug. 31, 2011: A suicide bomber detonated in a parked car outside a Quetta mosque, killing 11 people.
Aug. 19, 2011: More than 40 people were killed in a suicide attack at a mosque in Jamrud in the Khyber tribal agency.
April 3, 2011: The Taliban killed 41 people in a double suicide attack on a Sufi shrine in Dera Ghazi Khan.
March 4, 2011: The Taliban killed nine people in a bombing at a mosque in Nowshera.
Jan. 25, 2011: Suicide attacks that targeted Shia religious processions in Lahore and Karachi killed 16 people. The Fedayeen-e-Islam, a subgroup of the Pakistani Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed credit for the Lahore attack.
Nov. 5, 2010: A suicide attack outside a mosque in Darra Adam Khel killed 50 people.
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.