Taliban kill 9 in bombing at mosque in northwestern Pakistan

The Pakistani Taliban killed nine people and wounded dozens more in a bombing at a mosque in the violent northwest today. The attack is the latest by the Taliban and allied terror groups to take place at a religious site.

The Taliban detonated the bomb as Friday services ended at a mosque in the Akbarpura area of the Nowshera district, which lies just east of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkwha province.

“It was a planted bomb, we are investigating whether it was a remote control device,” a senior police officer told Dawn.

The target of the attack is unclear, however the Taliban have previously targeted security forces and anti-Taliban tribal leaders at mosques. In the past, the Taliban and groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have also attacked other religious sects, such as Sufis, Ahmidiyah, Shia, and Christians.

The Taliban have stepped up terror attacks against civilian and military targets in the regions near Peshawar since the beginning of January. Just yesterday, a suicide bomber killed nine people, including four policemen, in a bombing in Hangu, and six policemen were killed in an ambush in Khyber. Most of these attacks are being directed by Commander Tariq Afridi, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in Khyber, Peshawar, Kohat, and Hangu.

Also this week, the Taliban and al Qaeda claimed credit for the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti in the capital of Islamabad. Bhatti was a vocal opponent of Pakistan’s repressive blasphemy laws, which permit the death penalty for the slightest perceived insult against the Prophet Mohammed.

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 32 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 was most frequented, in an effort to maximize casualties.

The last major attack against religious targets took place on Jan. 25, when suicide bomber targeted Shia worshipers in Lahore and Karachi.

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

March 4, 2011: The Taliban killed nine people in a bombing at a mosque in Nowshera.

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.

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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