Taliban suicide bomber kills 13 in Mardan

Red agencies/ districts controlled by the Taliban; purple is de facto control; yellow is under threat.

The Taliban have struck in the settled district of Mardan in the Northwest Frontier Province. A suicide bomber struck in a bakery in the city of Mardan.

Thirteen Pakistanis were killed in the blast, including four policemen. Twenty-two Pakistanis were wounded and shops in the city were devastated. “The bakery was completely destroyed along with many other area shops in the blast,” GEO News reported.

The suicide attack in Mardan is the first mass-casualty suicide attack since early March. A dual suicide attack in the city of Lahore killed 28 and wounded over 200 on March 11. The headquarters of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency was one of the targets in the Lahore bombings.

The Taliban has conducted numerous suicide bombings since the federal and provincial elections in late February. A suicide bomber killed three and wounded 10 Pakistanis in Bannu on May 6. A suicide bomber killed five Pakistani troops when he detonated outside a paramilitary base near Wana, South Waziristan on March 20. A suicide bomber dressed as a police recruit killed two policemen and wounded five in Swat on March 18.

On March 4, seven Pakistanis were killed and 21 were wounded in a dual suicide attack at the Naval War College in Lahore. An attack at a tribal meeting in the settled district of Kohat in the Northwest Frontier Province on March 2 resulted in more than 40 killed and 40 wounded. The tribal leaders were discussing how to curb Taliban attacks in Kohat and the neighboring Orakzai tribal agency.

A suicide bomber attacked a vehicle of the Bajaur Levies on March 1. Two paramilitary soldiers were killed and 24 were wounded. A suicide bomber struck at a policeman’s funeral in the settled district of Lakki Marwat on Feb. 29. More than 40 Pakistanis were killed and scores more were wounded, many of them critically.

On Feb. 25, a suicide bomber killed the Pakistani Army’s surgeon general in the military garrison city of Rawalpindi. Seven others were killed in the attack and 20 were wounded after a Taliban suicide bomber rammed into Lieutenant General Mushtaq Ahmed Baig’s staff car. Mushtaq is the senior-most general killed in Pakistan since Sept. 11, 2001.

Despite the slew of suicide bombings and other conventional attacks directed at government institutions, the military and police, tribal leaders, and rival political parties, the government continues to press negotiations with the Taliban.

A “peace deal” was cut with the outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e- Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM – the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad’s Sharia Law) in the Malakand Division, which consists of the districts of Swat, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Buner, and Chitral at the end of April. The government is close to inking a deal with Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban who has been behind the suicide bombing campaign in Pakistan.

For details on the proposed peace agreement in South Waziristan, see Pakistan is negotiating a new peace agreement with Baitullah Mehsud.

See The Fall of Northwestern Pakistan: An Online History for more information on the rise of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan and the peace agreements signed between the government and the Taliban.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • C.H. says:

    This does not surprise me. Pakistan’s new government is nieve to suggest it can somehow make peace with people like this–people who enforce their radical beliefs through the barrel of an AK-47 or with a bomb strapped to their chest.
    They are cold blooded murderers…when I read about the first Mardan bombing last month, and the Taliban claimed it was “still committed to a cease-fire”, I could only shake my head.

  • Neo says:

    I do wish this had bigger play in the western press. I think it would be informative for the public to see the consequences of governments making constant peace gestures toward belligerent extremists without real regard to outcome. The Taliban is openly amused by the whole process whereby governments feel the constant need to accommodate them with little but contempt returned. If the Taliban is slowed any this year it will be the result of the souring of political sentiment toward them over the last year not the result of these empty peace deals. This sort of peace deal won’t slow the Taliban in the slightest.
    When does peace making become a hollow ritual?
    I’m not suggesting that peace in general is a hollow gesture, or that real negotiations between belligerent parties are never reached. The way this is being done is an exercise in futility. Something other than practical political considerations are afoot here.

  • Batman says:

    I’m at a loss. When was there ever more clear-cut bad guys that deserved to be eliminated than the Taliban?

  • Marlin says:

    As one would expect given the recent political developments in Pakistan, Coalition Forces are increasing their intelligence and force capabilities along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

    “Our analysis of the previous peace deals … is that when that dialogue is ongoing or when talks have been consummated in peace deals we see a spike in the untoward events that we experience on our side of the border,” said General Dan McNeill, commander of NATO’s 47,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
    NATO says there has already been a sharp increase in militant attacks in eastern Afghanistan, the area closest to the parts of Pakistan where peace talks are underway. Mostly U.S. troops are responsible for helping Afghan forces patrol mountainous region.
    “We are going to have a bit of a plus-up in the U.S. sector,” McNeill told Reuters. “Because we expect more activity there, we attune some of our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance processes and systems to focus where we anticipate things.”

    Reuters: INTERVIEW-NATO beefs up forces along Afghan-Pakistan border

  • Marlin says:

    Syed Saleem Shahzad is in total agreement with Bill.

    Mehsud has had Pakistan dancing to his tune over the past few months. At the beginning of the year, militants ravaged Pakistan with numerous suicide attacks and then suddenly proposed a peace agreement. Under immense pressure from its vulnerable domestic political and economic situation, Pakistan accepted the peace deal and then also accepted the militants’ demand for the swapping of prisoners.
    It appears now that Pakistan has very little to play with and the militants will continue to set the rules of the game. The Mardan attack on Sunday is a good example of how quickly they can raise the stakes.

    Asia Times: Pakistani militants savor a sweet deal

  • Cordell says:

    [Sorry for the reposting here, but the old thread expired and the questions below seem as relevant in this thread as the prior one. Perhaps you can provide some answers.]
    What is the status of the anti-Taliban insurgency in the NWFP? About a year and a half ago, the press reported that local tribes had taken up arms against the Taliban over the killing of village leaders who opposed their edicts, similar to what happened in Anbar with al Qaeda. Moreover, if the Taliban is now the de facto government for the NWFP, why are we not training and supporting an insurgency movement there as we did successfully with the Contras in Nicaragua? One would think that if the Taliban and al Qaeda are tied down fighting a growing insurgency in the NWFP, they would have significantly less time and opportunity to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan. Finally, if the Pakistani government refuses to confront the Taliban in the NWFP, are they at least willing to establish checkpoints on all roads going into the territory to limit the flow of weapons and other lethal supplies to the Taliban? Your report seems to imply that this treaty removes Pakistani control of key choke points.
    Musharraf supposedly did not take stronger, more decisive action against the Taliban because he was too weak politically, a situation that many suggested would be reversed once a popularly elected government took control in Pakistan. Does this new peace treaty with the Taliban therefore suggest a lack of political will on the part of the government or rather continued political weakness? The Taliban-allied parties reportedly fared very poorly throughout the country even in areas where they were supposedly the strongest. Overall, the best explanation for the government’s actions here is that Pakistan is too weak militarily to confront the Taliban on their own turf but fears a political backlash if they ask for US and NATO help. In other words, as long as they feel the Taliban represents no real threat to the government outside the NWFP, doing nothing, i.e. “containment,” seems the safest path politically. Is that your take as well?
    Thanks again for all the hard work of you and everyone else at the LWJ. It makes a considerable difference in understanding our true situation in this crucial war against terrorism.

  • Cordell says:

    From Reuters:
    [Still, the Taliban (in Afghanistan) are not the biggest threat to security.
    “It seems to me there are two big threats out there are neither are the insurgent,” McNeill said.
    “I don’t think this country can continue on its present path and expect reasonable progress if it doesn’t take on the scourge of illegal narcotics,” he said. “Secondly I think that governance has to improve greatly; the government has to extend its reach and it has to eliminate corruption.”
    Afghanistan produces 93 percent of the world’s opium, a drug processed into highly addictive heroin and exported to the West. The lucrative trade is one of the biggest factors making Afghanistan one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
    Both undermine public faith in the Afghan government and threaten to undo military efforts to defeat the insurgency.]
    About a year ago, the press reported on various rumors that the West and Afghanistan were considering licensing opium production in the country and buying the licensed production to convert to medical use as morphine. Only unlicensed crops would be targeted for eradication efforts. From both political and economic perspectives, this approach makes perfect sense. It would at once deny the main source of funds for the Taliban, now narco-terrorists, and limit government corruption while ensuring pro-government cooperation and fealty from the average Afghani farmer. What has become of this proposal?

  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 05/19/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

  • Neo says:

    “About a year ago, the press reported on various rumors that the West and Afghanistan were considering licensing opium production in the country and buying the licensed production to convert to medical use as morphine.”

  • Neo says:

    Sorry guy’s
    I’ve got way too many “of such’s” in that last post.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Cordell, I am going to be brief as I don’t have time to go into depth on this. The short answer is there never was an “anti-Taliban insurgency in the NWFP.” That was a Pakistani government myth swallowed whole by the media, and it surrounded a man named Mullah Nazir.
    Nazir fought a family feud with Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, and this was blown out of proportion as a “Pakistani Awakening.”
    Here are the entries on Nazir:


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram