Taliban suicide bomber kills 31 Pakistani soldiers in Mardan

The Taliban claimed credit for today’s suicide attack that killed 31 Pakistani Army trainees at a military base in the country’s violent northwest.

A teenage Taliban suicide bomber wearing a school uniform walked onto the parade grounds of a military base and detonated his vest as army recruits were gathered for early morning drills. Police said that more than 40 additional soldiers were wounded in the deadly attack.

The attack took place at the Punjab Regiment Center in the city of Mardan in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The suicide bomber was able to get past at least six security checkpoints, according to a report in the BBC.

Taliban spokesmen Azam Tariq and Ihsanullah Ihsan both claimed credit for the Mardan suicide attack, and said attacks would continue until the Pakistan military ceased operations in the tribal areas and also until US Predator strikes, which target Taliban and al Qaeda commanders in the tribal areas, are halted.

The suicide bomber was likely trained by Qari Hussain Mehsud, the Taliban’s master trainer. Qari Hussain recently boasted that within 30 minutes’ time he could convert anyone into becoming a suicide bomber. The US added Qari Hussain to the list of specially designated global terrorists on Jan. 20, 2011.

Qari Hussain has been behind numerous suicide attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, including the Dec. 30, 2009 suicide attack against the CIA at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost province, Afghanistan, that killed seven CIA officials and bodyguards, and a Jordanian intelligence officer. Qari Hussain also trained Faisal Shahzad, the operative who came close to detonating a car bomb in Times Square in the heart of New York City on May 1, 2010.

The Taliban have stepped up attacks against security forces and civilians alike in Pakistan’s northwest since mid-January. The Taliban have carried out suicide attacks, bombings, and assassinations in the districts of Peshawar, Kohat, Hangu, Bannu, and Karak over the past month. Scores of security personnel and civilians have been killed in the attacks. [See LWJ reports, Pakistani Taliban step up attacks in northwest, and Taliban execute 4 ‘spies’ in Pakistan’s northwest, for more information.]

The Taliban have claimed credit for these attacks and have cited Pakistani Army operations and US Predator strikes as the reason for the attacks.

Beginning in 2008, the Pakistani military has launched several operations in the tribal areas and in the settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in an effort to dislodge the Taliban, but has failed in that objective. The military is currently conducting an offensive against the Taliban Mohmand, a tribal agency it has declared Taliban-free three times since March 2008.

The Taliban have carried out 18 major suicide attacks at Army, police, and intelligence installations in Pakistan since March 2009. Suicide bombers and assault teams have struck bases Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Karma, Multan, and even in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. [See LWJ report, Terror assaults on security targets in Pakistan’s cities, 2009-2011].

Sources:

Death toll rises to 31 in attack on Pakistani army recruits, Xinhua

Suicide bomber kills 30 soldiers in Mardan, Dawn

Pakistan attack: ‘Schoolboy’ suicide bomber hits Mardan, BBC

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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9 Comments

  • Khan says:

    It’s a sad and tragic event that has taken shape in Pakistan. I send my condolences to the family of all those who have die. There has be an end, and the only way to fight the terrorist in such country as Pakistan is to take a control of the open-weapon flow. Pakistan need to make it illegal for anyone buying and selling of weapons.

  • Dan A says:

    Bill, why are Pakistani suicide bombers so successful while their counterparts in Afghanistan (Pakistani or otherwise) seem to be so inept? It seems more often than not suicide bombers in Afghanistan either just kill themselves or miss their target and kill a bunch of civilians.

  • JRP says:

    Pakistan is a country coming apart at the seams. Right now the most important question in the World for the West should not be the economy or China or Egypt. It should be the threat of Al Qaeda and The Taliban getting their hands on one or more of Pakistan’s nuclear bombs. In my opinion the likelihood of a nuclear detonation somewhere in the West, to include Russia, over the next 5 years is quite high. As the Pakistani State collapses in slow motion, by either gift, purchase, or theft AQ/Taliban will acquire one or more nuclear bombs and will without any doubt whatsoever, bank on it, detonate same somewhere in The West.

  • blert says:

    Dan
    It’s a tribal thing. The Pakistanis are much more lax because the teens are of the community and their speech and dress perfectly fit.
    In Afghanistan these same kids really stick out. They are NOT locals and act it.
    There have been numerous attempts to cross the wire in non-Pashtun areas. Those normally fail spectacularly.
    Beyond that, the ISAF establishes the procedures in Afghanistan not Pakistan. The difference shows.

  • JEB says:

    About this time each night I load the express24/7 news feed in my media player to see the latest from that region. as I look at it tonight there’s explosions in Karachi and Hyderabad. Last night Mardan the night before it was Gujranwala. you can almost set your clock to it, when the sun rises over there expect a bombing. It’s like a never ending horror movie.

  • Villiger says:

    JRP, agreed. You can add India to that list of target states, after all its right next door.
    And when this event takes place, 3 things will be clear:
    1. The UN will be shown to be a lame duck for not identifying the risk and acting.
    2. The present US strategy in the region, AfPak in particular will be judged to be a total failure.
    3. The Iraq War will be deemed to have been the distraction of the Century.
    //timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/Handle-with-caution/articleshow/7477226.cms

    Khan, i agree with you, as impractical as it is. In the same spirit, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal should also be dismantled and if necessary, placed in escrow and, if further necessary, even with China but under an UN mandate.

  • JRP says:

    Villiger . . . Thank you for the link to the Indian article on this subject. One preemptive action that can be taken by both The United States and by India is something I’d suggested about a half year ago and is based upon what President Kennedy did during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.
    Kennedy made a nationally televised speech from the White House in which he said that he would consider any atomic strike from Cuba to have been a strike from the Soviet Union.
    At the time, Fidel Castro was as much of a hot-head as any Jihadist. He was egging Nikita Kruschev on to go toe-to-toe with the U.S.
    Kennedy’s speech gave Kruschev cause for pause. Ultimately things got settled much to the World’s relief at the time.
    The Jihadists cannot be reasoned with because their view of going to heaven necessitates the death of infidels. The ISI and other Pakistani power players may be far more rational than either the Jihadists or for what we give ISI and Pakistani power players credit and a Presidential declaration of policy such as I suggest, and for which there is precedent, may have a very sobering effect on the Pakistani State.
    Insofar as the customary rebuttal that we could not be sure from whence the strike actually originated, my stock reply is that those who make themselves one of the usual suspects, have no cause for complaint if they are erroneously targeted in a counter-strike. If you’ve built a long rap sheet for yourself, it is your own fault that innocents jump to the conclusion, erroneous or not, that, once again, you are the culprit.

  • trickey says:

    JRP,
    Pakistanis have long internalized the fact that no matter who strikes India with a WMD on whatever scale, Pakistan will be extinct.
    Pakistan’s gung-ho first use policy and unrelenting hostility means that a false positive attack on India is a very tempting prospect for Pakistan’s enemies. The utter stupidity of their nuclear posture never seems to dawn on PA.
    Back to the topic:
    Looks like anything “Punjab” is a red rag for the TTP.

  • Villiger says:

    JRP, you’re welcome and good comment.
    One aspect i wish to emphasize is that of the UN. Given Pakistan’s stockpile in the middle of a war zone, even if what we see in Pakistan is a low-grade but consistent civil war, the UN looking the other way is truly astounding to an ordinary global villager. Its a stark and depressing reminder of the Type Zero civilization we are.

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