Suicide bombers kill 39 in Lahore

Two suicide bombers struck in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore, killing 39 people in a simultaneous attack in a neighborhood where the military has a strong presence.

The suicide bombers walked up to Pakistani Army vehicles parked in the R A Bazaar in the South Cantt and detonated their vests.

“There were two suicide bombers who attacked two military vehicles within the space of 15 seconds,” a senior police official told Geo News. Five security personnel were among those killed; 95 people have been wounded.

The South Cantt is “home to army officials and military installations, as well as hospitals and schools run by the military,” according to Dawn.

While no group has claimed credit for the attack, the Taliban is the prime suspect. The Punjabi branch of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan said it carried out the March 8 suicide attack in Lahore that targeted the headquarters of the Federal Investigation Agency, a law enforcement agency that targets terror groups. The Punjabi Taliban said the March 8 attack strike was carried out to avenge the death of Qari Mohammed Zafar, the leader of the al Qaeda- and Taliban-linked Fedayeen-i-Islam, who was killed in a US airstrike in North Waziristan on Feb. 24.

In the recent past the Taliban have targeted military personnel and family members in cantonment in Pakistan’s cities. One of the most high-profile attacks took place in a mosque in the military garrison city of Rawalpindi on December 4, 2009. More than 40 officers, soldiers, and family members were killed in the blast.

Today’s suicide attack is the third this week. Yesterday a suicide bomber detonated his vest prematurely in Peshawar, killing five people. The bomber was targeting a Frontier Corps convoy as it passed through a checkpoint, but he tripped and accidentally detonated his vest.

The military has claimed that the Taliban’s leadership has been dismantled and that the movement is disjointed and unable to conduct operations after the military’s offensives in Swat, Bajaur, and South Waziristan. But the Taliban have regrouped in North Waziristan, Arakzai, Khyber, Kurram, and regions in South Waziristan still under Taliban control, and its top leaders remain free.

Background on jihadist groups in South Punjab

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. In December 2009, the Punjabi provincial government barred foreign reporters from South Punjab, insisting that all reporters must obtain permits before reporting from the area.

“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 that 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.



  • ArneFufkin says:

    What horrific and senseless carnage. The Salafist disease must be eradicated from this earth with prejudice – post haste. The good-hearted, peaceful Muslim citizens of Pakistan deserve better than they are getting from their political and cultural “leaders”. The status quo is increasingly unacceptable. Very sad.

  • gfgwgc says:

    Then, on the other hand, Pakistan did manage to test fire missiles this week to send a message to “anyone harboring nefarious designs” against the country. Guess it was time once again to remind the populace to stay scared of those terrible foreign powers all waiting to harm the motherland. The vast and expensive military complex needs to justify its existence every now and then, after all.
    It is laughable that a foreign power – however nefarious – would bother intervening at a time when Pakistan is doing one heck of a job of self destructing from within. I hope that the pakistani people realize that their worst enemies are within their own borders and are “rogue assets” created, nurtured or managed by their own state. That would be step one in changing the fundamental course of that country.

  • T Ruth says:

    As i’ve asked before:
    “When will Pakistanis realise that they are NOT caught between a rock and a hard-place. They ARE a hard-place between a rock and a rock!”
    When this happens and all things must come to pass. especially irresponsibility on such a large scale, will be when they might just start pulling back from the brink.

  • Jayant says:

    “worst enemies are within their own borders and are “rogue assets” created, nurtured or managed by their own state. That would be step one in changing the fundamental course of that country.”
    Pakistan’s worst enemy is Pakistan Army ( I include ISI in it).
    It could have changed the course of the country.
    By now its beyond changing itself.
    This would be step one – pakistan army changing its character, structure, objectives and vision.
    But then this is never going to happen.
    So we are just going to see …a terrible run downhill
    ruth i will take it further:
    they are the hard place, they are the rock and they are the ones caught in between and they are fast sucking in a lot more of others there…afganist, united states, india

  • gfgwgc says:

    Very interesting column by Irfan Husain in today’s Dawn (Pakistani newspaper) that speaks to this same issue:

  • gfgwgc says:

    I share your pessimistic views about the outlook for Pakistan. For that country to correct the course that it has taken, it has to undertake a long list of difficult changes. They have not taken a single step in that direction nor seem to currently have the leadership to do so. Their current actions are driven entirely by pressure from the United States and not by any intrensic enlightenment. When that external pressure ceases, things will spring back to their normal state of dysfunction: deals will once again be made with unsavory characters, the Talibs will once again fill the vacuum caused by weak governance, their weak-kneed politicians will continue their infighting and corrupt ways and their military looking outwards. Given the current state of affairs, one can run through a dozen different scenarios regarding its future and not come up with a single positive one.
    Perhaps our insistence on democracy in Pakistan was not the best course of action. Perhaps Pakistan can only be governed by an authoritarian leader. And perhaps we should encourage and accept the emergence of a pragmatic military leader (aka dictator) who can take this bull by its horns and consolidate the various and disparate power centers by whatever means necessary. It is a terrible solution but the only game changer that I can conjure.

  • Jayant says:

    point out 1 pakistani dictator who has tried, even if failed miserably, to steer the country away from their support and dependence on assorted militant groups?
    Show me one military leader who has shown a vision, an inclination or even a desire to move out of the quagmire they have gotten the army itself and the country into.
    By now, with a whole sections of pakistani army having actively gone ideologically tilted to militant ideology or atleast sympathising with it, any leader who tries to steer out of the present direction is going to face something akin to mutiny/civil war from sections of the army itself.
    Also the importance, influence and money /equipment sourcing vis-a-vis the americans and by extension the international community goes poof the moment it cleans up this militancy mess.. their importance lies in the nuisance that they create and sustain and the charade they do of containing it.
    In summary, the conditions are extremely hostile for a positive course correction as well there is no motive incentive for it.
    America can only push it so much and anyway america is preparing for an exit.
    we are going to have to wait for another fantastic disaster before we could start hoping for some kind of positive movement there
    I will wait for one
    to build, break! (tao)


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