Suicide assault team strikes Pakistani Army building in Multan

A suicide assault team killed 12 people while targeting the Pakistani Army in the city of Multan in South Punjab. The Multan attack is the first in that city in the Taliban’s latest terror campaign, and the third major terrorist attack in Pakistan’s major cities in two days.

Members of the assault team dismounted from a white van and engaged security guards at a checkpoint outside the Army building, according to the Associated Press of Pakistan.

“Security personnel tried to stop a white pick up approaching the post at Qasim Bela,” APP reported. “One of the terrorists came out of the van and opened firing on the security personnel. Others threw hand grenades and blasted [from] the vehicle, leaving three security personnel dead.”

Members of the terror assault team then entered the building and opened fire, according to Geo News. A doctor put the number of people killed in the attack at 12 and said the Army building that was the target of the attack was “badly damaged.”

“We have recovered 12 dead bodies and more than 18 injured,” the doctor told AFP. “Most of the dead are civilians. There were also some security men among the dead. This building belongs to the army. It’s badly damaged.”

The building was said to be owned by a “sensitive agency,” according to the report in Geo News. A spokesman for the Inter-Services Intelligence agency later confirmed the organization owned the building.

The Taliban have been targeting the counterterrorism section of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency as well as the Pakistani Central Intelligence agency. The ISI counterterrorism branch is responsible for targeting the Taliban and is supported by the US. The Taliban destroyed an ISI counterterrorism section building in Peshawar on Nov. 13, as well as the Pakistani Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Lahore on Oct. 16.

Today’s suicide attack in Multan follows bombings yesterday in Lahore, Punjab, and Peshawar. Fifty-five Pakistanis were killed in attacks in a market in Lahore and outside a courthouse in Peshawar.

The attack in Multan is the first in South Punjab since the Taliban began their latest terror campaign on Oct. 5. Over the past several years, the cities of South Punjab have previously been exempt from Taliban and allied terror group attacks. The attacks have focused on the major cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, and Peshawar, and in Pakistan’s lawless Northwest Frontier province.

But in May, the Taliban indicated it would seek to expand the terror strikes into South Punjab. Hakeemullah Mehsud, then the deputy to Taliban leader Baitullah and now his successor, singled out Multan as part of the Taliban’s target package.

“Residents should leave the cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, and Multan,” Hakeemullah said, warning that government institutions will be targeted, after he took credit for a series of attacks on police and intelligence services in Lahore in May.

Last year, Baitullah 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.

South Punjab is a hotbed of Pakistani terror groups. Banned terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, and its radical offshoot Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are all active in South Punjab. These groups have taken up common cause with the Taliban and al Qaeda, and are often referred to as the Punjabi Taliban. The terror groups have been supported by Pakistan’s military and the ISI.

South Punjab teems with radical mosques and madrassas, which are used to indoctrinate Pakistani youths to join the jihad. Tens of thousands of members of these terror groups who have gone through training camps are said to be active in South Punjab.

The Pakistani government has denied that terror groups are based in South Punjab. Just last week, the government barred foreign reporters from South Punjab, insisting they can only report from the area after obtaining a permit.

“All foreign journalists are required to get permission from foreign affairs as well as from interior ministries for visiting any specific place especially in South Punjab,” a senior officer of the Punjab government told the Press Trust of India. The official claimed journalists published “twisted and unfounded” facts about terror groups operating there.

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

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5 Comments

  • James says:

    Bill, I’m curious if you know whether these suicide attack squads are composed of mostly Punjabi or Pashtun Taliban. I know the Taliban in the tribal agencies often takes credit, but they claim to have Punjabi branches as well. It never seems to be reported whether the individual attackers are Punjabi or Pashtun. This might make sense when they are suicide bombers, since they may be hard to identify, but it seems that this information isn’t released even when some of the attackers are captured.

  • Anonymous says:

    These attacks are getting brazen…I’m beginning to think its desperation on the part of the attackers – after all there is not an unending cadre of suicide bombers – especially not of punjabi extraction.

  • Marlin says:

    The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Public Relations in-charge Major Farooq Feroze is admitting the attack was on an ISI building.

    Two suicide attackers launched a gun-and-bomb assault on the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) building here on Tuesday and killed at least eight people and injured over 45. The attackers also died.
    […]
    According to witnesses, the attackers rammed their explosives-laden vehicle into the Bela post after being challenged by security personnel. The powerful blast damaged a number of buildings in the area. The ISI building was partially damaged.

    Dawn: ISI building targeted in Multan; 8 die

  • Normally the attacks are carried out by Poor and illiterate who are from the refugee community and in this case mostly pakthuns. Punjabies are better off and are practical people who donot indulge in suicide terrorism

  • T Ruth says:

    “Punjabies are better off and are practical people who donot indulge in suicide terrorism”
    ————————————————-
    Sounds like a bit of a romantic and impractical statement to me. Weren’t most, if not all, of the Bombay attackers, incl kasab, the lone survivor, punjabis? (Where the LeT has a base, as do others)
    This is not to assert that in general the bulk are not pashtuns, may well be, only to say that a lot of brains have been madrassa-washed in the punjab too i’m sure. Apart from the fact that there are poor people who can be bought off i’m sure up and down the land, sadly.
    ______________________________________
    Has anyone seen news on the identity of attackers at the Rawalpindi mosque of last friday?
    I don’t mean ethnicity but like possible past army (who knows maybe even present army??!) involvement etc…

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