Pakistan has suffered yet another suicide bombing in one of its major cities. A suicide bomber targeted police stationed outside of the Lahore High Court in the provincial capital of Punjab. At least 22 police and civilians were killed and 70 wounded in the attack.
The blast was described as “powerful.” Geo News reported the attack was conducted by a suicide bomber wearing a vest. The police were standing guard preparing for a protest by lawyers.
“Six or seven [police] constables lost their lives on the spot while others succumbed to their injuries on way to hospital and in the process of [receiving] first aid,” a doctor told the Associated Press of Pakistan, the government’s news service. “Three persons in two cars, one motorcyclist, two rickshaws and one horse-pulled cart ‘Tonga’ were also blown up as they happened to be crossing the busiest part of the Mall. Both cars and a WAPDA jeep were totally smashed. The horse also fell dead on the spot.”
The bombing comes just days after Pakistani security services arrested the leader and five members of a Lahore-based suicide cell. Ahsan al Haq and five cell members were arrested for complicity in the November Sargodha Air Force Base suicide bombing that claimed the lives of eight Pakistanis. Al Haq, the cell leader, was a former Pakistani Army major who operated a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan prior to the ouster of the Taliban in late 2001.
The arrest of al Haq and his cell may have activated other related cells. The Lahore suicide bombing may also be a retaliatory strike for the detention of the cell.
The Lahore suicide bombing is the latest attack on Pakistani government, military, and civilian targets nationwide. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have conducted numerous suicide attacks in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Karachi, Quetta, and a host of locations in the tribal areas, the Northwest Frontier Province, and Sindh, Baluchistan, and Punjab provinces. Several of the attacks have occurred on or near military bases housing Pakistani’s nuclear weapons facilities.
Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud is thought to be behind the spate of suicide attacks that escalated in late 2006. Baitullah claimed credit for the assassination of Pakistan People’s Party leader Benazir Bhutto in the military garrison city of Rawalpindi. The various Pakistani Taliban movements throughout the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province united under the leadership of Baitullah, who assumed command of the newly created Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan — the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
For more information on the Lahore suicide cell see Al Qaeda suicide cell leader captured in Pakistan [Jan. 9].
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