The Taliban have struck again in the heart of Pakistan’s military garrison city of Rawalpindi. A Taliban suicide assault team estimated at between three to five men entered a mosque in the city and opened fire on the worshippers and detonated their vests, killing 40 and wounding 83 more. The attack killed two senior generals and wounded another.
Two of the members of the suicide assault team have been killed. The assault team was not interested in taking hostages or negotiations, according to the Pakistani military.
“They exploded bombs inside the mosque,” Major General Athar Abbas, the top military spokesman told AFP. “They opened fire on the worshippers… There is no hostage situation. Two terrorists have been killed.”
The blasts caused parts of the roof of the mosque to collapse.
The attack took place in a mosque that is used by Army officers on a day when the mosque is sure to be filled; Friday is the Muslim day of prayer.
“There were about 200 or 300 worshippers in the hall,” an eyewitness told AFP. “Army officials mostly offer their Friday prayers in this mosque.”
Major General Bilal Omar Khan, who had served as the commander of the Pakistani Rangers, Brigadier Abdul Rauf, the son of the Peshawar Corps commander, and two lieutenant colonels were killed in the attack, according to Samaa and Geo News. Many children of active military officers were killed and wounded in the bombing. General Mohammad Yousuf, the retired former Vice Chief of Army Staff, was also wounded.
The Taliban and allied terror groups have struck at the military and police forces in Pakistan’s major cities to counter the ongoing military operations in South Waziristan, Khyber, Arakzai, Kurram, and Swat.
Today’s Rawalpindi attack is the latest in a wave of Taliban violence that emerged in the beginning of October. Suicide bombers have struck in Islamabad, Peshawar, Shangla, Kohat, and Charsadda, and assault teams have targeted police in Lahore and Peshawar as well as the Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. Just two days ago, a suicide bomber detonated outside the gate of the Naval headquarters in Islamabad.
The Oct. 10 assault on Army General Headquarters shut down Pakistan’s military command for nearly a day, as hostages were held. The Taliban are reported to have obtained sensitive data from computers and files during that assault.
The Taliban have also conducted targeted assassinations of senior military officers. Two Brigadiers have been killed and two more wounded in four separate assassination attempts in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The Taliban have repeatedly attacked their enemies in mosques and other places of worship. There have been 19 such attacks in mosques and other Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007, according to information compiled by The Long War Journal.
Major attacks at mosques, religious events, and Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007:
Dec. 4, 2009: A suicide assault team stormed a mosque in Rawalpindi that is frequented by Army officers, killing 40.
Oct. 20, 2009: A pair of suicide bombers detonated their vests at Islamabad’s International Islamic University, killing five.
June 12, 2009: A suicide bomber killed five Pakistanis, including anti-Taliban cleric Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi, in an attack on a mosque in Lahore during Friday prayers.
June 12, 2009: A suicide bomber killed six worshipers and wounded more than 90 in an attack inside a mosque in Nowshera. The attack collapsed the dome of the mosque.
June 5, 2009: A suicide bomber killed 49 worshipers in an attack on a mosque in a remote village in Dir.
April 5, 2009: A suicide bomber killed 24 worshipers and wounded more than 100 in an attack outside a Shia religious center in the Chakwal district in Punjab province.
March 27, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber killed more than 70 worshipers and wounded more than 125 in an attack at a mosque in the Khyber tribal agency.
March 5, 2009: An attacker threw a hand grenade into the middle of a mosque in Dera Ismail Khan, wounding 25 worshipers.
March 2, 2009: A suicide bomber killed six people during an attack at a gathering in a mosque in the Pishin district in Baluchistan.
Feb. 20, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 32 Pakistanis and wounded more than 85 in an attack on a funeral procession for a Shia elder who was murdered in Dera Ismail Khan.
Feb. 5, 2009: A suicide attack outside a mosque killed more than 30 Shia worshipers and wounded more than 50.
Nov. 22, 2008: A bombing at a mosque in Hangu killed five civilians and wounded seven.
Nov. 21, 2008: A suicide attack on a funeral procession in Dera Ismail Khan killed 10 mourners and wounded more than 25.
Sept. 10, 2008: The Taliban attacked a mosque filled with Ramadan worshipers in the district of Dir in northwestern Pakistan. More than 25 worshipers were killed and more than 50 were wounded.
Aug. 19, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 29 Shia mourners and wounded 35 after detonating in the emergency ward of a hospital.
June 17, 2008: Four Pakistanis were killed and three wounded in a bombing at a Shia mosque in Dera Ismail Khan.
May 19, 2008: Four Pakistanis were killed in a bombing outside a mosque in Bajaur.
Jan. 17, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 10 and wounded 25 in an attack on a Shia mosque in Peshawar.
Dec. 28, 2007: A suicide bomber detonated in the middle of a mosque in Charsadda in an attempt to kill former Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao as he conducted Eid prayers. More than 50 were killed and more than 200 were wounded.
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