Sunday, July 6, 2008

Suicide Bomber strikes Pakistan's Red Mosque

A suicide bomber claimed at least fifteen victims when he detonated an explosives-laden vest in the midst of a rally at the Red Mosque in the capital Islamabad. It was apparently the latest act of revenge by Islamic fundamentalist militants for a raid on the mosque a year ago. That raid, ordered by Musharaf, was supposed to be a quick operation to arrest militants holed up inside, but turned into a 20-hour battle that left scores of militants and several commandos from the Pakistani Army dead. Of the hundreds of militants occupying the mosque, only 83 survived, most of them women and children.

That raid unleashed a wave of suicide attacks, many targeted at police officers and security personnel. The AFP is reporting that this attack deliberately targeted policemen. Dozens of dead and injured officers lay in pools of blood after Sunday's blast, batons shields and helmets strewn about, their uniforms ripped to shreds, an AFP photographer said.

Todays event at the mosque was to commemorate the anniversary of that raid.
"The whole event at the mosque went smoothly but then the suicide bomber targeted the security forces," interior ministry chief Rehman Malik told reporters at the scene.

Musharraf condemned the blast and reiterated the government's "commitment to root-out terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan news agency reported.

The US-backed leader, whose allies were defeated in elections in February, urged the new government on Friday to do more to combat militancy, warning that otherwise there would be "Red Mosques everywhere".
A senior Pakistani security official, speaking to the AFP on condition of anonymity, said that a young man "walked into the police contingent and apparently blew himself up. "The blast happened 15 minutes after the meeting dispersed. A heavy contingent of police was at a main crossing several hundred metres from the mosque and they were targeted in the attack," the official added.

We have been trying to keep a watchful eye on the situation in Pakistan - after all, the threat of nuclear weapons falling into terrorist hands quite properly scares the hell out of us - and the threat of that happening is greater with our ally Pakistan than with all other threats, real or perceived, combined

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