Aftermath of the blast in Rawalpindi. AP Photo via NDTV.
The Taliban have struck again in the military garrison city of Rawalpindi. The latest suicide attack in the sister city of Islamabad claimed the life of Lieutenant General Mushtaq Ahmed Baig, the Surgeon General of Army Medical Corps. Mushtaq is the senior-most officer killed since the al Qaeda attacks on the US on Sept. 11, 2001.
Seven others were killed in the attack and 20 were wounded after a Taliban suicide bomber rammed into Mushtaq’s staff car. The attack occurred close to the military hospital and a post office. Several vehicles and shops were damaged in the strike.
Today’s suicide bombing comes one day after the rearrest of senior Taliban leader Mullah Obaidullah Akhund in Lahore. Obaidullah was in Lahore raising money to fund Taliban operations in Afghanistan. On Feb. 11, Pakistani security forces also arrested Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, the Taliban’s former military commander in southern Afghanistan. The Taliban responded by kidnapping Tariq Azizuddin, the Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan, as he traveled through the tribal agency of Kurram. The Taliban have demanded Dadullah’s release in exchange for Azizuddin.
The assassination of General Mushtaq is the seventh major attack inside the military city since July 2007. The last strike occurred on Feb. 4, when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle rammed into a bus carrying military personnel. Six soldiers and four civilians were reported killed and 25 more were wounded in the attack.
The most significant attack in Rawalpindi occurred on Dec. 27, 2007 with the assassination of Pakistan People’s Party leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. A shooter and suicide bomber penetrated Bhutto’s security perimeter. More than 20 of her supporters and security detail were killed and scores wounded after the suicide bomber detonated. Bhutto was set to become the next prime minister of Pakistan. The attack caused the national and provincial elections to be delayed by five weeks. Al Qaeda and South Waziristan Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud took credit for the assassination.
On Nov. 23, 2007 in Rawalpindi, two suicide bombers struck a post outside the military general headquarters and a bus carrying personnel working for the Inter Services Intelligence agency. Fifteen were killed and scores wounded in the November 2007 bombings.
On Oct. 30, 2007, a suicide bomber killed seven people, including two police officers, and wounded 14 outside of the military headquarters.
On Sept. 4, 2007, a two-pronged suicide attack in Rawalpindi killed at least 26 and wounded over 70. The bombers targeted a bazaar and a bus carrying intelligence agents.
On July 6, 2007 an unidentified group attempted to shoot down Musharraf’s airplane as it left the airport at Rawalpindi. Musharraf was traveling with senior military and political leaders.
Rawalpindi’s sister city of Islamabad has suffered a series of suicide strikes this year, including an attempt on former Prime Minister Aziz in February and the bombing of a hotel near the Lal Masjid after Pakistani forces stormed the mosque in July.
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