A suicide bomber killed 30 Pakistani Shia worshippers as they marched in a procession in the port city of Karachi. The blast also wounded up to 60 more Pakistanis, who were commemorating Ashura, the holiest day on the Shia religious calendar. Riots broke out on the streets of Karachi after the attack. Angry Pakistanis pelted policemen with stones and fired guns into the air.
The bombing during the Ashura procession is the latest attack in a campaign against Shia worshippers in Pakistan and Pakistan-held Kashmir.
Yesterday a suicide bomber killed 15 Shia mourners and wounded 100 more in an attack on a procession in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-held Kashmir. Two policemen were among those killed. Another bombing in Karachi on Dec. 26 wounded 26 people. That attack was carried out using a remotely detonated car bomb.
While no group has taken credit for the attacks, the al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is the prime suspect.
The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is a radical, anti-Shia terror group that has integrated with al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has an extensive network in Pakistan and serves as the muscle for terror attacks.
Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has a strong presence in South Waziristan, where it formed alliances with the Taliban, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and al Qaeda, and created a group called the Fedayeen-e-Islam. The Fedayeen-e-Islam took credit for the deadly September 2008 suicide attack on the Islamabad Marriott Hotel, the March 2009 storming of a police station in Lahore, and a host of other terror attacks.
Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and the Taliban have shifted fighters and leaders from the tribal areas to Karachi in the wake of the Pakistani Army’s operations in South Waziristan, Arakzai, and Kurram. On Dec. 17, Pakistani police arrested a senior aide to Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
Last week, Karachi police told Daily Times that they had intelligence that indicated Lashkar-e-Jhangvi would strike at the Shia in Karachi.
“They plan to carry out suicide bombings and target killings,” an anonymous police official told Daily Time last week. “These terrorists want to show their strength to the law enforcers and intelligence agencies, and they also want to take revenge of the killings of their leaders and workers in the last couple of months in the city.”
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.