Suicide bomber kills more than 30 at Shia mosque in central Pakistan

More than 30 Shia Pakistani worshipers were killed and more than 50 wounded in a devastating suicide attack today outside a mosque in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan in the central Pakistan province of Punjab.

The bomber detonated in the midst of a procession of Shia mourning the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed and a central figure of Shia Islam. The bomber detonated just outside of the Johar Ali Imam Bargah mosque as the procession returned. Police are certain the bombing was a suicide attack as no crater was left at the scene of the attack. Casualties may rise as officials are still assessing the attack scene and many of those wounded are in critical condition.

The attack took place in Punjab province, well outside of the Northwest Frontier Province where the Taliban is fighting government forces in Swat, Bajaur, and Mohmand. Last year, Baitullah Mehsud, the commander of the Pakistani Taliban, had threatened to wage “jihad” and turn the provinces of Sindh and Punjab “into a furnace” if the operations in northwestern Pakistan did not cease.

While no group has yet been identified as having caused the attack, the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi probably was behind it. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ or Army of Jhangvi) was formed in 1996 after splitting with the Sipah-e-Sahaba, a radical Sunni group behind sectarian attacks against Shia throughout Pakistan. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi expanded its activities to include terror attacks against the Pakistani state. After Sept. 11, 2001, LeJ was one of two Pakistani terror groups banned by the Musharraf regime.

Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other Pakistani terror groups have used the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi to execute operations inside Pakistan for years, a senior US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in September 2008. “Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, and other Pakistani terror groups merged with al Qaeda years ago,” the official said. “The group acts as street muscle” for al Qaeda.

The size of the LeJ is unknown, but it is believed to have hundreds of members dispersed in small cells throughout Pakistan. The group maintains camps in South Waziristan, under the protection of Baitullah Mehsud.

After a string of attacks during the winter and spring of 2006, Pakistani police began to openly admit that the LeJ had begun forging close ties with al Qaeda and the Taliban. One of the most most high-profile LeJ attacks after Sept. 11 was the March 3, 2006, bombing outside the US Consulate in Karachi. A US diplomat was killed in the suicide car bombing.

The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was also behind the deadly Sept. 20, 2008, bombing at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad that killed more than 50 Pakistanis and foreigners, wounded more than 270, and destroyed the once-popular hotel.

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



  • Marlin says:

    When it comes to terror, Pakistan sowed the wind and is now reaping the whirlwind.

    At least twelve policemen were injured in a suicide attack at a police station in Mangora on Thursday.
    Out of 12 injured, six are said to be in critical condition, sources said.

    Geo TV: Suicide attack at Mingora police station, dozen injured

  • KW64 says:

    Al Queda continues its program of alienating itself from the hearts of the Pakistani people. They try to provoke sectarian conflict between sunni and Shia to the detriment of both. If you were Pakistani would you side with these people?

  • JR says:

    The hard-liners are really Pakistani patriots, can’t you see that? I think it’s all America’s fault. Or maybe Britain’s; the Durand line and all. Anyway, you cannot blame boys for being boys, even if they are soulless murderers.

  • NS says:

    There were savage terror attacks/killings by Sunni groups (Sipah-e-Sahiba in particular) on Shias in Karachi in the mid 90’s.
    This doesnt surprise me at all. Eager to get the opinion of a certain Mr.Bill Longley. India is going to get blamed for these attacks by Longley in 5…4…3..

  • Neo says:

    I really don’t think they care if this alienates Pakistanis. The radicals are pretty arrogant. Any Pakistani that doesn’t like this sort of thing can either be ignored or neutralized.
    I can’t really see how this sort of attack directly helps them improve their leverage over the Pakistani government. Instead, I think this might be a public relations event aimed at their supporters. It’s their business card. Laskhar-e-Jhangvi is reminding everyone that they are still in business following the Mumbai attack. Here’s demonstration of your money at work; BOOM! We aren’t going away anytime soon. Thank you for your continued support, and keep those funds flowing.

  • Abheek says:

    Bill R : Any idea whether this is an unprovoked attack on the Shias or it is seen as a retaliation ?? Also are there any Shia groups which indulge in such kind of violence within P-stan?

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  • bill Longley says:

    this secterian voilence is result of Afghan war and Revolution in Iran. Pakistan became battle field due to proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran……
    I believe that we never became independent and through out our history remained dependent on Saudi Arab and western powers… in Pakistan 80 % population is sunni and in sunnies 85 to 90 % are brelvies or muslims who follow Sufies[Muslim Catholics) and are tolerent and peace loveing but rest 10 % deobandies and wahabies are strong because they were supported by west and government against soviats.
    to be frank as a journalist and student of society I feel that present conflict and civil war between Librals and religous is changeing fastly into conflict with in religous in which wahabi/deobandi at one side and shia and sunni brelvies on the other…..
    i still remember the wall chalkings of Sipah e Sahaba back in 80,s they called shias as Kafirs and sunni brelvies as Mushriks(kafir)
    the blast few years back in Karachi by Baitullahs men in nishter park on eve of Birth day of Prophet[PBUH] and targeting on Sunni brelvi mosques … especiall the attack which happend few days ago in DI khan Masjid e Madni ….. is not a good sigh

  • bill longley says:

    DJ Elliott …..
    sorry sir….but there was no intension of advertisement…

  • Hugh says:

    We need to get serious about our policy towards Pakistan. That country is a mess. This attempt at sparking sectarian violence isn’t surprising and the fatalities don’t even shock me anymore. We need to step into the NWFP and take care of business but we are playing this fraudulent game of political footsie with an incredibly weak government. We have to draw a line in the sand and make them choose us or the NWFP cavemen. Get off the fence Pakistan.

  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 02/06/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.


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