Taliban suicide bomber kills Pakistani provincial minister


The Taliban claimed credit for today's suicide attack in Peshawar that killed nine people, including Bashir Ahmed Bilour, the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The suicide attack is the latest against the top leaders of the Awami National Party, a secular political party that has opposed the spread of the Taliban in the northwest and leads the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Today's suicide attack took place as Bilour and other senior ANP leaders and workers were holding a meeting at a private residence in Peshawar, the provincial capital.

"The suicide bomber walked into the house where the meeting was taking place and detonated his vest," Shafqat Malik, chief of the bomb disposal squad, told AFP.

Ihsanullah Ihsan, the top spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, told Dawn that the attack was carried out to avenge the death of "our elder Sheikh Naseeb Khan," a senior cleric at the radical Darul Uloom Haqqani madrassa, or Jamia Haqqani, in North Waziristan. The madrassa, which is the second largest in Pakistan, is run by Maulana Sami ul-Haq, who is considered to be "the father of the Taliban."

Khan was kidnapped and executed in May, and the Pakistani Taliban claimed that the government and military had him killed. In June, Ustad Ahmand Farooq, al Qaeda's media emir for Pakistan, issued a eulogy for Khan and another extremist Pakistani cleric. Khan had openly supported jihad and the Taliban and other terror groups operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan before he was killed [see LWJ report, Al Qaeda media chief laments deaths of 2 Pakistani clerics].

Regardless of the Taliban's rationale for today's suicide attack, the terror group has targeted numerous officials from the Awami National Party in suicide attacks at meetings, mosques, and funerals over the past several years. In March, a suicide bomber targeted Khushdil Khan, who is the deputy speaker of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's provincial assembly and a senior ANP leader [see LWJ report, Suicide bomber kills 15 at funeral in Peshawar].

Although the Pakistani government, led by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, has claimed that the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan is fractured and suffering from leadership problems, the group has been able to launch coordinated strikes throughout Pakistan, including a series of recent attacks that killed eight polio vaccination workers in Karachi, Peshawar, and elsewhere in the northwest. The attacks forced the United Nations and the government to shut down the program, leaving more than 3.5 million children without vaccinations to protect against the disease.



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban suicide bomber kills Pakistani provincial minister"

Posted by mike merlo at December 22, 2012 8:14 PM ET:

another fine example of the Pakistani Gov't at odds with itself & its citizens

Posted by blert at December 22, 2012 10:27 PM ET:

Polio vaccine is normally mis-understood.

Though universally described as a vaccine -- which implies that those who take it can't get polio thereafter -- such is not so.

For obvious emotional and medical reasons the general public is not told its true mechanism which defeats polio.

The Salk vaccine and the Sabine vaccine arouse the immune system's response. But, it plays out differently than you'd expect.

It turns out that these vaccines block the transmission of the disease from a person who's infected -- a carrier -- it is not able to actually stop one from getting the virus.

If everyone can be induced to take the vaccine -- by government action -- then polio transmission collapses -- and the disease is wiped out.

However, even after the disease appears gone, there are large numbers of infected carriers that -- under the right circumstances -- can cause polio to bloom again.

With the Taliban blocking universal vaccination -- it will never be eradicated.

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Yet, in today's America, most youngsters are NOT being vaccinated. And, it's not just America, most of the developed world is no longer vaccinating against polio.

So, this is NOT a small matter that doesn't affect us. The fools in the FATA are incubating a biological threat of staggering proportions.

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The only reasonable policy is to resume mass inoculations and to prohibit anyone traveling to or from that area from taking one step without inoculation.

Polio can spread like wildfire. Don't you doubt it.