Pakistani Taliban claims 2 suicide bombings

The Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban) has claimed a pair of suicide bombings in recent days and the group promises to conduct more in the near future.

The first was purportedly carried out on Feb. 2 in the Mastung district of Balochistan. Though there is little independent reporting on the bombing, the Pakistani Taliban says “Talha Dairvy,” a member of its “martyrdom seekers group,” blew himself up at a Frontier Corps camp where “mercenaries” had gathered at a “canteen” to eat. The group claims that “tens” of victims were killed and many more wounded, but the number of casualties has not been confirmed.

The second was launched by a “martyrdom seeker” known as “Siddique,” who struck a Pakistani Army base in the Swat area of northern Pakistan on Feb. 3. That bombing was quickly confirmed by Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations, which said that at least 11 soldiers were killed.

The Pakistani Taliban controlled Swat district and parts of the surrounding area from 2007 to 2009, after the jihadists cut a deal with the government. However, the Pakistani government was forced to move against the jihadists in 2009 after their insurgency spread. The Pakistani military has controlled the area since then. According to The New York Times, the last suicide bombing in Swat occurred in 2013.

In January, a Pakistani court reportedly freed Sufi Mohammed, a key ideologue who helped negotiate the deal that allowed the Pakistani Taliban to control Swat. Mohammed’s son-in-law is Mullah Fazlullah, the Pakistani Taliban’s emir.

Just weeks later, the Pakistani Taliban launched its first suicide bombing in Swat in several years. The organization portrays the explosion as “revenge” and as a sacrifice “to reassure captives, orphans and widows that your brothers, sons and partners have not forgotten you.”

“Our martydom seeker mujahid attacked infidel army in…Swat,” killing “tens of mercenaries” and wounding “scores” more, the Pakistani Taliban said in a statement released online. The group added that it has “started its avenging activities and this is [the] 2nd attack in current month and there will be more by will of Allah.”

In a separate statement, the jihadists warned the “general public to stay away from government and security personnel because by grace of Allah our thousands of martyrdom seekers are ready to bring apocalypse to the infidel army and government departments.”

Although the Pakistani Taliban claims to have “thousands” of would-be “martyrs” ready and waiting, the group claimed just 11 “martyrdom attacks” in 2017.

In early January, for example, Pakistani Taliban propagandists released an infographic (seen on the right) summarizing the jihadists’ operations throughout 2017. Eleven (11) of the 82 operations summarized were “martyrdom attacks,” which allegedly led to the deaths of 146 “mercenaries” and 180 more being wounded.

Other types of operations included those involving mines, an assassination by a sniper, as well as “raids and ambushes.” In total, the Pakistani Taliban claimed that 447 people were killed and nearly that same number (431) were wounded. FDD’s Long War Journal has not independently corroborated these figures.

The pace of suicide bombings conducted by the Pakistani Taliban appears to have increased during the first five weeks of 2018. In addition to the two “martyrdom” attacks launched in the first week of February, the group claimed at least three other similar explosions in January.

The group said that its “martyrdom seeker,” a jihadist known as “Mujahid Ismail,” blew himself up at a checkpoint in Quetta city on Jan. 2. Citing local reports, Xinhua confirmed that a raid took place, but said the incident was a shootout and not a suicide bombing.

Then, on Jan. 9, a jihadist detonated his bomb near a Pakistani security vehicle. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Muhammad Khurasani identified the bomber as “Ilyas Swati” and said he struck a “vehicle of the Pakistani infidel army from a Baloch regiment.” Independent accounts, including from Agence France-Presse, confirmed the bombing took place and that “at least seven people” were killed.

On Jan. 17, the Pakistani Taliban claimed its “third martyrdom seeking attack in [the] current month,” saying a jihadi known as “Ismail Afridi” targeted Rao Anwar, a police official. Anwar survived the bombing. According to Geo News, Anwar has been targeted by terrorists several times in the past. It is not clear how many casualties the Pakistanis suffered in the operation.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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