US military video footage of the suicide attack in Khost. The suicide bomber weaves through the barriers and detonates just as a line of school children passes.
Taliban suicide bombers struck on both sides of the Durand Line, killing 51 and wounding scores more in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The suicide attack in Pakistan took place in the settled district of Buner in the insurgency-infested Northwest Frontier Province. A suicide bomber detonated his bomb in a polling station in a school in Shalbandai. More than 35 Pakistanis, including children and policemen, were killed in the strike.
Elections were being held to fill a vacant seat in Pakistan’s national assembly. Pakistan’s election commission closed down polling stations in Buner and suspended the by-election.
The local tribes in the Shalbandai region of Buner killed six Taliban fighters on Aug. 12.
The last suicide attack in Buner took place on Dec. 9, when a terrorist was stopped before he could strike at a government installation. One child was killed and another was seriously wounded in the bombing.
The Taliban have attempted to extend its power in Buner, but local tribes have formed militias to oppose the Taliban expansion. The Taliban still maintain a strong presence in the district despite the tribal militias.
Across the border in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber struck outside of a government center located next to a school in the Haqqani Network stronghold of Khost province. Fourteen children and two soldiers were killed in the attack. Thirteen children and 12 soldiers were among the more than 50 Afghans wounded in the attack.
Khost province in the home of the Haqqani Network, which is run by former mujahideen leader Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Siraj. Both Jalaluddin and Siraj have close ties with al Qaeda its leader, Osama bin Laden.
The Haqqanis have extensive links with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence agency. The relationship with the ISI has allowed the Haqqani network to survive and thrive in its fortress stronghold across the border in the neighboring tribal agency of North Waziristan.
The Haqqanis control large swaths of the tribal area, and run a parallel administration with courts, recruiting centers, tax offices, and security forces. The Haqqanis have established multiple training camps and safe houses used by al Qaeda leaders and operatives, as well as by Taliban foot soldiers preparing to fight in Afghanistan.
Siraj has risen in prominence over the past year. He is believed to be the mastermind of the most deadly attacks inside Afghanistan, including the military-styled assault on the Serena Hotel and the attack on a parade in Kabul that targeted President Karzai. He is also the senior military commander in eastern Afghanistan. The US military has described Siraj as the primary threat to security in eastern Afghanistan and has offered a $200,000 reward for his capture.
The US military has conducted multiple cross-border airstrikes agianst the Haqqani Network infrastructure in North Waziristan.
The last major attack in Khost took place on Dec. 4 when a three-man suicide team stormed the Khost provincial headquarters of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, killing six intelligence and police officials and wounding seven.
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