The Taliban have struck again in Peshawar. The latest attack targeted the headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency in the provincial capital. Also, a suicide bomber leveled a police station in Bannu.
So far, 10 Pakistanis have been reported killed and more than 35 have been wounded in the massive blast. A suicide bomber rammed his car into the main gate of the ISI headquarters building and detonated the bomb. The explosion is said to have heavily damaged the ISI headquarters and several other buildings in the surrounding high-security area.
In the nearby district of Bannu, a Taliban suicide bomber killed seven people, including five policemen, and wounded 25 more in an attack on a police station. The police station is reported to have been leveled in the attack. The attack took place in the Baka Khel region, one of two areas known to harbor al Qaeda operatives. The neighboring region of Jani Khel is known to have hosted al Qaeda’s central treasury and has served as the meeting place for al Qaeda’s executive council.
The two attacks are the latest in the Taliban’s terror offensive, which began on Oct. 5. The Taliban and allied jihadi groups have launched military assaults against the Army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and against police centers in Lahore. In addition, suicide bombers have struck in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Peshawar, Kohat, Swat, Charsadda, Bannu, and Shangla.
More than 300 Pakistanis, mostly civilians, have been killed in the Taliban strikes [see list below]. Peshawar has been hard hit in the Taliban offensive, which has also included military strikes in the tribal areas of Bajaur, Mohmand, Arakzai, and Bannu. Just yesterday the Taliban killed 10 soldiers and captured eight more in an IED strike and an ambush in Mohmand.
The military is currently on the offensive against Hakeemullah Mehsud’s faction of the Taliban in South Waziristan. The military said 22 Taliban fighters and five soldiers were killed in South Waziristan in the past 24 hours. The military has reported that 524 Taliban fighters and only 53 soldiers have been killed since the operation was launched on Oct. 17. No senior Taliban or al Qaeda leaders, operatives, or military commanders have been killed or captured during the operation, however.
Al Qaeda blames ‘Blackwater’
Both the Taliban and al Qaeda have denied conducting the suicide attacks that have killed civilians in markets. Just today, Mustafa Abu Yazid, al Qaeda’s commander in Afghanistan, said the “mujahideen only target the army, security forces of the apostate state [Pakistan], and intelligence [agencies] that are responsible for shedding the blood of the weak in Swat, Waziristan, Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Arakzai, and elsewhere.”
Instead, Yazid blamed “Blackwater and other criminal groups” for conducting the attacks as “part of the dirty war that they practice,” according to a translation of Yazid’s statements obtained by The Long War Journal. Blackwater renamed itself Xe in October 2007.
“Today, everyone knows that Blackwater and other criminal groups have violated Pakistan with support from this corrupt and criminal government [Pakistan] and its security agencies,” Yazid said in an audio statement released on the Internet. “They commit these ugly actions and blame them on the mujahideen through their media outlets in order to tarnish the image of the mujahideen and Muslims.”
The Pakistani state has helped feed such conspiracy theories by blaming India and other “foreign powers” for backing the Taliban. Some Pakistanis refuse to believe the Taliban would conduct such attacks on their own countrymen and fellow Muslims.
Major Taliban attacks in Pakistan since Oct. 5:
Nov. 13, 2009: A suicide bomber killed 10 people in an attack on the headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency in Peshawar.
Nov. 13, 2009: A suicide bomber wounded 10 people in an attack on a police station in Bannu.
Nov. 10, 2009: A suicide bomber killed 24 people in a market in Charsadda.
Nov. 9, 2009: A suicide bomber killed four people during an attack at a police checkpoint outside Peshawar.
Nov. 8, 2009: A suicide bomber killed an anti-Taliban leader and 12 others in an attack at a market in the town of Matni near Peshawar.
Nov. 5, 2009: An Army brigadier and a soldier were wounded in an ambush in Islamabad.
Nov. 2, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber killed 34 Pakistanis and wounded scores more in an attack in Rawalpindi.
Nov. 2, 2009: A pair of suicide bombers killed one policeman and wounded 25 security officers and civilians after the pair detonated their vests at a security checkpoint.
Oct. 28, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber killed 119 Pakistanis and wounded hundreds more in an attack on a bazaar in Peshawar.
Oct. 27, 2009: A brigadier general who served as the director of defense services guards at the Army General Headquarters escaped an assassination attempt in Islamabad.
Oct. 23, 2009: The Taliban detonated an anti-tank mine and hit a bus transporting a wedding party in Mohmand. The explosion killed 15 of the passengers and wounded six more.
Oct. 23, 2009: The Taliban detonated a car bomb outside a popular restaurant in the residential Hayatabad area in Peshawar. The attack wounded 13 civilians; nine are said to be in critical condition.
Oct. 23, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber killed seven people during an attack at a security checkpoint near the Kamra Air Weapon Complex in the district of Attock in Punjab province.
Oct. 21, 2009: The Taliban assassinated a brigadier general and his driver during an ambush in Islamabad.
Oct. 20, 2009: A pair of suicide bombers detonated their vests at Islamabad’s International Islamic University, killing five.
Oct. 16, 2009: A pair of suicide bombers, including a female, attacked a police station and a building housing an intelligence service in Peshawar, killing 11.
Oct. 15, 2009: Terrorist assault teams attacked the Federal Investigation Agency building, the Manawan police training center, and the Elite Force Headquarters in Lahore. Twenty-six people, including nine terrorists and 12 policemen, were killed.
Oct. 15, 2009: A suicide bomber rammed a car into a police station in Kohat, killing 11 people, including policemen and children.
Oct. 12, 2009: A suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives as a military convoy passed through a checkpoint in a market in Alpuri in Shangla. The attack killed 41 people, including six security personnel.
Oct. 10, 2009: An assault team attacked the Army General Headquarters and took 42 security personnel captive. Eleven soldiers were killed, including a brigadier general and a lieutenant colonel, along with nine members of the assault team; and 39 hostages were freed.
Oct. 9, 2009: A suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives in a bazaar in Peshawar, killing 49 civilians.
Oct. 5, 2009: A suicide bomber entered the World Food Program office in Islamabad and detonated his vest, killing five UN workers, including an Iraqi.
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