Taliban suicide bombers killed 16 Pakistanis in two suicide attacks today that targeted a Shia religious procession in Lahore and policemen in Karachi.
The larger attack took place in Lahore, when a teen-aged suicide bomber detonated his vest packed with explosives at a checkpoint before he could reach the Shia procession marching to commemorate the death of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.
“A 13-year-old boy detonated explosives as policemen tried to check him at a cordon near the procession,” Lahore’s chief of police told Reuters. The blast killed 13 people, including women, children, and policemen, and scores more were wounded.
The Fedayeen-e-Islam, an alliance between the Pakistani Taliban, the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed it carried out the attack [see LWJ report, “Terror alliance takes credit for Peshawar hotel assault” for more information on the Fedayeen-e-Islam].
“We will continue such attacks in future,” Shakirullah Shakir, a spokesman for the Fedayeen-e-Islam, told Reuters.
The Fedayeen-e-Islam was based in the Mehsud tribal areas in South Waziristan but fled the region after the Pakistani military began an offensive there in October 2009. It has since shifted its base of operation to North Waziristan.
Senior leaders of the Fedayeen-e-Islam include Qari Hussain Mehsud, the notorious Taliban commander who trains child suicide bombers; Asmatullah Moaviya, a senior aide to slain Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, and who was reportedly arrested in Mianwali in Punjab province; and Rana Afzal. The US killed Qari Zafar, a senior leader of the terror group, in a Predator airstrike in North Waziristan in February 2010.
The Fedayeen-e-Islam have taken credit for some of the more deadly attacks in Pakistan, including the September 2008 suicide attack on the Islamabad Marriott Hotel, the March 2009 storming of a police station in Lahore, and the June 2009 suicide assault on the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar.
In the second attack today, a suicide bomber rammed a motorcycle packed with explosives into a police van in the southern city of Karachi. Two policemen were among those killed in the attack. The police were deployed to provide security for Shia worshipers in Karachi.
Taliban target religious sites
Over the past four 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 31 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.
Another major attack took place on July 1, 2010, when suicide bombers struck the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine in Lahore, 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, in an effort to maximize casualties.
Major attacks at mosques, religious events, and Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007:
Jan. 25, 2011: Suicide attacks that targeted Shia religious processions in Lahore and Karachi killed 16 people. The Fedayeen-e-Islam, a subgroup of the Pakistani Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed credit for the Lahore attack.
Nov. 5, 2010: A suicide attack outside a mosque in Darra Adam Khel killed 50 people.
Oct. 25, 2010: Five people were killed when an IED was detonated inside a shrine in Pakpattan.
Oct. 22, 2010: Five people were killed when an IED was detonated inside a mosque in Peshawar.
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.