Suicide bombers kill 8 in attack at Karachi shrine

Two suicide bombers killed eight people in a coordinated attack today at a Sufi shrine in Karachi in the latest assault on religious institutions in Pakistan.

The two suicide bombers detonated within minutes of each other at the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine. The attack was designed to maximize casualties; it took place on Thursday evening, during peak visiting hours. More than 60 people were wounded, Geo News reported.

Abdullah Shah Ghazi is considered to be the patron saint of Karachi, and the shrine is over 1,400 years old.

No group has taken credit for the attack, but the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and the so-called Punjabi Taliban have claimed credit for previous attacks on religious institutions in Pakistan.

The Punjabi Taliban includes members and factions of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in particular is well known for carrying out sectarian terror attacks against minority Shia, Ahmadis, Sufis, and Christians in Pakistan.

The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is an 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 al Qaeda’s muscle for terror attacks. The group has conducted numerous suicide and other terror attacks in the tribal areas, the Northwest Frontier Province, and in Punjab province.

Over the past few years, the Taliban and allied Pakistani terror groups have shown no reservations about striking inside mosques and other religious sites, as well as during religious processions and events [see list below]. There have been 26 major attacks on mosques and other Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007, according to information compiled by The Long War Journal.

One of the most brazen attacks took place on Dec. 4, 2009, when a suicide assault team stormed a mosque frequented by military officers in Rawalpindi. Two senior generals were among the 40 people killed. The last such attack took place on Aug. 23, when a suicide bomber detonated inside a mosque in Wana in South Waziristan. More than 30 people, including a pro-government and pro-Taliban former member of parliament, were killed.

Suicide bombers also struck the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine in Lahore on July 1, 2010, killing 41 people and wounding more than 170. Three suicide bombers detonated their vests at the shrine at a time when it is most frequented.

Major attacks at mosques, religious events, and Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007:

Oct. 7, 2010: Two suicide bombers killed eight people in a coordinated attack on the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in Karachi.

Sept. 3, 2010: A suicide bomber attempted to storm a mosque in Mardan, but was stopped by security guards. One person was killed after he detonated his vest.

Sept. 1, 2010: Suicide bombers detonated during Shia religious processions in Lahore, killing 28 people.

Aug. 23, 2010: A suicide bomber detonated at a mosque in Wana, South Waziristan, killing 18 people.

July 1, 2010: Suicide bombers detonated at the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine in Lahore, killing 41 people and wounding more than 170.

May 28, 2010: The Punjabi Taliban assaulted two Ahamadi mosques in Lahore, killing more than 70 people.

Dec. 18, 2009: A suicide bomber detonated inside a mosque frequented by policemen in Lower Dir, killing 12.

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.

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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  • g says:

    I don’t understand the thinking by the Taliban in perpetrating these bombings. (I am assuming it was a Taliban group and they will take credit.) Won’t this make Paks more likely to favor aerial or other incursions by ISAF into the tribal areas? At a time when the Pak/US tension is so high, wouldn’t it make more sense to try to stay ‘under the public radar’.
    Of course, I don’t understand the Pak establishment either. Don’t these acts make it clear that the Talibs are a threat to Pakistan? The only explanation that makes any sense to me is that the Taliban have many supporters embedded in the government.
    Also, where is the outrage from the US government that our convoys are getting burned everyday and that the border is still closed? How is it that the US is apologizing? Pakistan is not an ally and we should stop providing aid if it isn’t appreciated and because we will eventually be fighting there also.

  • Sumit says:

    Almost everyone in Pakistan believes that Muslims can not kill Muslims so this can not be done by any Muslims and they believe its done by either US, Israel or India. These pakistani population have so much trust in Islam they refuse to agree that even Mumbai attackers were muslims, they claim they were Hindus.

  • Tim says:

    @ g
    Its only now that the West has started awakening to the horror that is Pakistan. The majority in Pakistan (including the political leadership, Army ISI, taliban) are Wahabi Sunni. They just HATE religious minorities. Hindus have been eradicated in Pakistan even before small-pox!!!
    Shias, Sufis, Ahmediyas, etc etc are next on the extermination list. And Taliban can easily target them because Pak Army and ISI lets them. Just like lions in a zoo are fed innocent lamb/goats, barbarian taliban are fed religious minorities by the Pak Army ISI in return for support agaist NATO and India.
    …and Pakistan claims to protect Muslims..HA!! Thats a joke…

  • me says:

    The gap between G’s expectations of rationality in Pakistan and Sumit’s comment on Pak belief systems trumping observable reality are terrifying. If Pak population is that out of touch then will the country descend completely into chaos?
    Sumit’s point of view on Pakistan is not unusual from what I’ve seen. But to be skeptical, Pakistan can’t be a country of children, can it? And there are videos going around Pakistan of muslims killing other muslims – the boys suspected of robbery who were lynched is just one of a couple of them. So how does that not connect?
    It is similar to the 9/11 inside job believers (see YouTube). So we have similar nutjobs in the US too, we just don’t have madrasas where they teach.

  • kp says:

    @g: “I don’t understand the thinking by the Taliban in perpetrating these bombings. (I am assuming it was a Taliban group and they will take credit.)”

    This was an attack on a Sufi shrine (that’s also frequented by some Sunnis and some Shia).

    It’s an ideological issue for the Taliban: they see this Sufi “worship” of the “patron saint” at these shrines to be idolatrous. So according to their (fundamentalist) view of the world these people are “not true muslims” and some of the Sunni and even Shia population will go along with that so they can be killed.

    The Sufi’s are outside of mainstream Islam with a more spiritual bent their own brotherhood rituals and a liking for saints. So there’s a feeling in the majority population that they’re neither Sunni nor Shia so they’re the odd ball ones (and they like singing and dancing too … think Whirling Dervish) so even for some non-Deobandi or non-Wahhabi Sunni they already seem suspect as Muslims. Not one of us so that’s OK. But they’re not hated as much as the Ahmadi.

    Imagine in the Christian world Calvinists hating the Gospel singing black churches (all that singing and dancing …) then blowing them up sometime in the 15th century (during the Reformation). I know it’s a stretch but it’s a sort of parallel.

    The Umma is an odd thing: as sometimes it doesn’t seem to include all “the Muslims” as we would see them. In some ways this is a bit like counting AQ in AfPak: it all depends on which definition of Muslim (or AQ) you subscribe too.

    BTW, Global Security has a pretty good intro to Islam and it’s various sects and their divergent views. Worth quite a few reads so you can keep the ideas straight.

  • gfgwgc says:

    Pakistan is a fascinating place, to say the least. Every event has its own alternate, highly convoluted rationality usually involving a conspiracy by outside forces. North Korea too lives in a bubble but unlike there, Pakistanis have relatively free access to information. I am not a sociologist but perhaps living in denial is just how one survives in a country like that. After all, the Germans did that under the Nazis.
    To understand the sectarian divide in Pakistan, this article is a must read:
    After the massacre in the Ahmediya mosque a few months ago, I read up on that small but prolific community. They are roughly the equivalent of our Mormons in the sense that they have their own prophet and place of worship within the larger religion. However, they are UNDER PAKISTANI LAW not allowed to call themselves muslims or call their place of worship a mosque. Every Pakistani applying for a passport has to take an oath that the prophet the Ahmediyas follow is an imposter and that Ahmadis are non-muslims. How mind boggling is that? This oppression of a community for its beliefs is the law of the land governed by our allies – starting with Zulfikar Bhutto to the present clown.
    The most ironic aspect about the Ahmediya community is that they were one of the most ardent advocates for the creation of the state of Pakistan. Little did they know that they would one day be a pariah in the country they helped create and that Hindu India or Christian West would be far safer havens for them to follow their religious beliefs.

  • g says:

    Thanks to all for the comments. Interesting stuff.
    Just to be clear, I was not asking why the Taliban would kill visitors to a Sufi shrine. I was asking why they would kill visitors to a Sufi shrine now.


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