The Taliban’s suicide campaign against the Pakistani government is in full swing. The latest suicide bombings occurred outside a weapons factory just west of the capital of Islamabad in Punjab province.
More than seventy Pakistanis have been reported killed and more than eighty wounded after two suicide bombers detonated their vest “almost simultaneously” outside the gates of the Wah Cantt (military installation), Geo TV reported. The bombers detonated their vests within a minute of each other. The attack occurred just as workers were changing shifts in order to maximize casualties.
The Taliban took credit for today’s attack. Mullah Omar, the spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said the attack was a response to yesterday’s airstrike in Wana, South Waziristan, that killed at least eight al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.
The Wah Cantt hosts three weapons complexes, according to Global Security. The attack occurred outside the gates of the Pakistani Ordnance Factories, a collection of 14 factories that produces arms and ammunition for the Pakistani armed forces. More than 40,000 Pakistanis are employed at the factories.
The Kamra Air Weapon Complex and Heavy Industries Taxila are also contained within the Wah Cantt. Taxila “is devoted to land combat systems,” Global Security notes, while Kamra is believed to be connected with Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. The Pakistani Ordnance Factories are believed to store nuclear weapons at a “screwdriver level” – meaning the components are stored disassembled and can be assembled within hours of use.
The Taliban targeted Pakistani Air Force personnel outside the Kamra Air Force Base last December. Seven were wounded in the suicide bombing. Three other bombings and suicide attacks occurred near bases housing nuclear weapons last year. Numerous other attacks occurred at military and police installations.
The Pakistani government and the military have issued multiple statements assuring the Pakistani people and the west that the country’s nuclear weapons are safeguarded and incapable of falling into the hands of terrorists. The US governement has voiced concerns over the safety of Pakistan’s nukes.
Today’s suicide bombing is the fourth mass-casualty strike by the Taliban since August 12. Two days ago, a Taliban suicide bomber struck at a hospital in Dera Ismail Khan. More than thirty were killed and 25 wounded in the attack.
Nine Pakistanis, including five policemen, were killed and more than 35 were wounded after a suicide bomber struck during Pakistan’s Independence Day celebration in the city of Lahore in Punjab province on Aug. 13.
The day prior, the Taliban took credit for a deadly bus bombing on a Pakistani Air Force bus in Peshawar. Thirteen Pakistanis, including 10 security officials, were killed and more than a dozen were wounded in the provincial capital of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province.
The Taliban have repeatedly threatened to re-initiate suicide and bombing attacks throughout Pakistan if the government did not cease military operations in Swat and Bajaur. Baitullah Mehsud, the commander of the Pakistani Taliban, had previously threatened wage “jihad” and turn the provinces of Sindh and Punjab “into a furnace” if the operations did not cease. The Taliban cowed the Pakistani government into signing peace agreements after a vicious suicide and military campaign in 2007 and early 2008 that claimed thousands of Pakistani lives.
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