Posts Tagged ‘ Islamic Militants ’

Car bomb kills 37 in Pakistan

As Reported By Adil Jawad for The Associated Pres

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A car bomb exploded outside a mosque on Sunday, killing 37 people and wounding another 141 in a Shiite Muslim dominated neighborhood in the southern Pakistan city of Karachi — the third mass casualty attack on the minority sect in the country this year.

No one has taken responsibility for the bombing, but Shiite Muslims have been increasingly targeted by Sunni militant groups in Karachi, Pakistan’s economic hub and site of years of political, sectarian and ethnic violence, as well as other parts of the country.

The bomb exploded outside a Shiite mosque as people were leaving evening prayers in Pakistan’s largest city. Initial reports suggested the bomb was rigged to a motorcycle, but a top police official, Shabbir Sheikh, said later that an estimated 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of explosives was planted in a car.

Col. Pervez Ahmad, an official with a Pakistani paramilitary force called the Rangers, said a chemical used in the blast caught fire and spread the destruction beyond the blast site. Several buildings nearby were engulfed in flames.

Men and women wailed and ambulances rushed to the scene where residents tried to find victims buried in the rubble of collapsed buildings. The blast left a crater that was 2 meters (yards) wide and more than 1 meter (4 feet) deep.

“I was at home when I heard a huge blast. When I came out, I saw there was dust all around in the streets. Then I saw flames,” said Syed Irfat Ali, a resident who described how people were crying and trying to run to safety.

A top government official, Taha Farooqi, said at least 37 people were confirmed dead and 141 more were wounded.

Sunni militant groups have stepped up attacks in the past year against Shiite Muslims who make up about 20 percent of Pakistan’s population of 180 million people. Sunni militants linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban view Shiites as heretics.

Tahira Begum, a relative of a blast victim, demanded the government take strict action against the attackers.

“Where is the government?” she asked during an interview with local Aaj News TV. “Terrorists roam free. No one dares to catch them.”

It was the third large-scale attack against members of the minority sect so far this year. Two brazen attacks against a Shiite Hazara community in southwestern city of Quetta killed nearly 200 people since Jan 10.

Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the bombings, which ripped through a billiard club and a market in areas populated by Hazaras, an ethnic group that migrated from Afghanistan more than a century ago. Most Hazaras are Shiites.

Pakistan’s intelligence agencies helped nurture Sunni militant groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in the 1980s and 1990s to counter a perceived threat from neighboring Iran, which is mostly Shiite. Pakistan banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in 2001, but the group continues to attack Shiites.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 400 Shiites were killed last year in targeted attacks across the country, the worst year on record for anti-Shiite violence in Pakistan. The human rights group said more than 125 were killed in Baluchistan province. Most of them belonged to the Hazara community.

Human rights groups have accused the government of not doing enough to protect Shiites, and many Pakistanis question how these attacks can happen with such regularity.

A resident who lived in the area where the bomb went off Sunday said there had been another blast nearby just a few months ago.

“The government has totally failed to provide security to common people in this country,” Hyder Zaidi said.

After the Jan. 10 bombing in Quetta, the Hazara community held protests, which spread to other parts of the country. The protesters refused to bury their dead for several days while demanding a military-led crackdown against the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group. Pakistan’s president dismissed the provincial government and assigned a governor to run Baluchistan province.

No operation was launched against the militant group until another bombing in February killed 89 people.

The government then ordered a police operation and has said some members of the group have been arrested. One of the founders of the group, Malik Ishaq, was among those detained and officials said he could be questioned to determine if his group is linked to the latest violence against Shiites.

The repeated attacks have left many Shiites outraged at the government. After the last blast in Quetta, Shiites in Karachi and other cities also demonstrated in support for their brethren in Quetta. Shiites in Karachi set fire to tires and blocked off streets leading to the airport. Many Karachi residents planned to strike on Monday as a form of protest following Sunday’s attack in their city.

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Bombers target Shiites in Pakistan, killing 12

As reported by The Associated Press

Suicide bombers attacked police protecting marches by minority Shiite Muslims in Pakistan’s two largest cities Tuesday, killing 12 people and wounding dozens, officials said.

The first and most deadly attack occurred in the eastern city of Lahore, where the bomber detonated his explosives as police tried to search him, killing 10 people. About an hour later, a second bomber struck in the southern port city of Karachi, killing at least two people.

The attacks laid bare the challenges facing Pakistani officials trying to secure cities far from the northwest, where militants fighting Pakistan’s U.S.-allied government and American forces in neighboring Afghanistan have long thrived. Many recent attacks have targeted minority Muslim and other religious groups.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Lahore, where thousands of Shiite worshippers were marking the end of a 40-day mourning period for the Islamic sect’s most beloved saint when the blast hit their procession early Tuesday evening.

The bomber is believed to have been a young teenage boy who was wearing a suicide bomb jacket and also carrying a bag full of explosives, said senior police official Aslam Tareen. He detonated his explosives when police tried to search him, he said.

“It is a great sacrifice by the police officers who laid down their lives to protect innocent people,” said Tareen.

Footage from the scene showed ambulances racing to the area and men carrying away victims. One young man whose arm was apparently hurt screamed as he was placed on a stretcher. A white car caught up in the explosion was largely destroyed, its hood twisted upward. A man lay wounded on the ground with two women and a child weeping beside him.

Dr. Zahid Pervaiz at the city’s Mayo Hospital told reporters that 10 dead bodies had come in, while another 52 people were wounded.

Shakirullah Shakir, a spokesman for the Fidayeen-e-Islam wing of the Pakistani Taliban, told The Associated Press in a phone call that the militant group had dispatched the bomber and warned of more bombings.

Later Tuesday evening, a suicide bomber struck police protecting a group of people returning from a Shiite march in the Malir neighborhood of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.

Three people were killed and three wounded in the attack, said Hamid Paryar, a doctor at Karachi’s largest hospital. Two of those killed and one wounded were policemen, he said.

The third person killed is believed to be the suicide bomber, who was riding a motorcycle and carrying his explosives in a bag, said senior police official Shaukat Shah.

The blast occurred near a police van protecting the Shiite marchers, said Akbar Jaffry, who witnessed the bombing.

Attacks roughly tripled last year in Lahore and Karachi, according to a recent report by the Islamabad-based Pak Institute for Peace Studies.

The trend is a sign that militants are having greater success exporting the fight far from their northwest heartland along the Afghan border. The Pakistani army, under U.S. pressure, has carried out several offensives against militants in its northwest, but violence persists.

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