It’s difficult to know at this remove precisely why civil war is being fomented in Pakistan, but it’s tragic – thousands more are fleeing South Waziristan as the clouds of war gather, VOA reports. The situation is complex – there are factions within the army, supported by elements of the ISI, that are attacking other elements of the army. It’s come out in the media that the Islamic groups are aided and abetted by elements of the Pakistan armed forces. Additionally, there have been accusations that Indian and American agencies are also supporting the ‘Taliban’. One previous insurgent leader, Qari Zainuddin, went public with this information and was promptly assassinated. Baitullah Mehsud, previously untouchable for some reason, was also eliminated by Predator strike shortly thereafter and replaced by his brother. What are we to make of all this? There’s more going on behind the scenes than we know. Qui bono?
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October 15, 2009
Five co-ordinated attacks killed at least 40 people in three Pakistani cities Thursday as violence escalated ahead of a planned offensive into the militant heartland on the Afghan border.
Officials said the violence began just after 9 a.m. with groups of gunmen attacking three sites in the eastern city of Lahore. Later in the day car bombs detonated in the cities of Kohat and Peshawar.
Gunmen initially launched a 1Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â½ hour attack at the Federal Investigation Agency. Two attackers died in the standoff that also killed four government employees and a bystander, said government officials.
Soon after that assault began, a second band of gunmen raided a police training school in Manawan, on the outskirts of the city. During a brief attack, nine police officers and four militants died, officials said.
The third team of eight gunmen scaled the back wall of an elite police commando training centre and attacked the facility, said Lahore police chief Pervez Rathore. Five attackers died, as well as one police nursing assistant and a civilian also died in the attack, officials said.
Police said several of the Lahore gunmen appeared to be teenagers who were wearing vests rigged with explosives. Sajjad Bhutta, a senior government official, added the attackers appeared to be from the lawless tribal regions along the Afghan border.
“They were not here to live. They were here to die. Each time they were injured, they blew themselves up,” Bhutta said. “They were well-trained.”
Meanwhile, a suicide bomber struck in the Saddar area of Kohat, killing 11 people when a vehicle blew up next to a police station. And a remotely detonated car bomb exploded outside a government housing complex in the northwestern city of Peshawar in the evening, killing a six-year-old boy and wounding nine other people.
Attacks were expected: intelligence official
Two of the Lahore sites had been targets of previous attacks. An official at the Punjab provincial government’s intelligence agency said agents had information ahead of Thursday’s attacks and police had been alerted but the assailants still managed to strike.
All government offices and many businesses in the provincial capital were shut down during the attacks. Nearby roads were also closed. Witnesses said hundreds of police officers and soldiers were in the streets and sirens could be heard for most of the day.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. But Taliban militants have taken credit for a series of attacks in recent days, including a siege of the army’s headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi that left 23 people dead.
President Asif Ali Zardari said in a statement the bloodshed that has engulfed the nation over the past 11 days would not deter the government from its mission to eliminate violent extremists.
“The enemy has started a guerrilla war,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik said. “The whole nation should be united against these handful of terrorists, and God willing we will defeat them.”
Growing threat to Punjab
Analysts said the attacks underscore the growing threat to Punjab, the northeastern province next to India where the Taliban are believed to have made inroads and linked up with local insurgent outfits.
“First the [North West] Frontier province was on the front line, now they are playing their games in Punjab,” Malik said.
Military spokesman Maj.-Gen. Athar Abbas said the attacks are a sign of desperation among the militants.
“These kinds of things are common for the terrorists,” Abbas said. “They use all these tactics and methods to bring the state under pressure.”
The Pakistani military is preparing a ground offensive in South Waziristan province, along the country’s western border with Afghanistan, to clear the region of militants.
Military officials have not said when the ground operation would begin, but there has been speculation it is imminent. Two divisions totalling 28,000 men have been moved into the area, according to reports.
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