Suicide bombers kill 50 people in Pakistan
The Associated Press
Date: Monday Dec. 6, 2010 12:23 PM ET
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Two militants wearing vests studded with explosives and bullets blew themselves up outside a government-backed meeting of anti-Taliban tribesmen close to the Afghan border Monday, killing 50 people and wounding 100 others.
The strike in Mohmand region underscored the tenacity of the Islamist uprising in the northwest despite Pakistani army offensives over the last 2 1/2 years. The operations have retaken areas where militants enjoyed safe haven, but authorities have struggled to hold onto the gains.
The tribally administered region is home to thousands of militants staging or supporting attacks on American troops fighting a related insurgency in Afghanistan. It also houses al Qaeda leaders and operatives from around the world plotting attacks on the West.
The United States is squeezing the insurgents with missiles fired from unmanned drones. The frequency of such attacks has surged under the Obama administration. In the most recent strike, seven people were killed Monday in a different part of the tribal area from where the suicide bombing took place, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
The Pakistani army has supported the creation of tribal militias against the militants, but the groups have been ruthlessly attacked. On three separate occasions this year suicide bombers killed more than 65 people attending meetings between officials and tribesmen, who are typically paid for attending.
Security is tight at the gatherings, with attendants frisked well away from the fortified government buildings where they take place. But local police and soldiers are poorly equipped and trained, while suicide bombers -- especially when they work in pairs or more -- are hard to defend against.
The attackers Monday were wearing the uniforms of local tribal police, allowing one of them to get inside the government compound and blow himself up, said regional political officer Amjad Ali Khan. Seconds later, another militant detonated his explosives at the gate, said Khan, who was attending the meeting.
The dead and wounded included tribal elders, police, political officials and civilians. Two television journalists who were at the compound reporting were also killed, said Shakirullah Jan, president of Mohmand's journalist association.
"There was a deafening sound and it caused a cloud of dust and smoke," said Qalandar Khan, who was being treated for his wounds at a hospital in Peshawar, the largest city in the northwest. "There were dozens on the ground like me, bleeding and crying. I saw body parts scattered in the compound."
The blast destroyed one building, and the shrapnel left dozens of holes in the walls. Amjad Ali Khan said the explosives were wrapped with bullets rather than the usual ball bearings, nails or nuts and bolts. He said this may have made the blasts especially deadly.
Militants have killed more than 1,300 people in attacks across Pakistan this year, most of them civilians. But there have been fewer attacks than last year, perhaps because of the army operations, including one in Mohmand, and the expanded U.S. drone strikes.
"We are not scared of such attacks and will keep on taking these enemies of humanity to task until they disappear from society," said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister of the northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Monday's U.S. missiles were the latest of more than 100 to hit the area this year.
They struck a shop and a vehicle close to the town of Mir Ali in the North Waziristan region, said Pakistani intelligence officials on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to the media. The identities of the dead were not immediately known.
U.S. officials do not say whom they are targeting, but some of the attacks are believed to have killed midlevel or senior Taliban and al-Qaida figures. Pakistan publicly condemns the missile strikes but secretly supports some of them. Civilians are sometimes said to be among the dead, but some locals say the strikes are very accurate in targeting militants.
Almost all the strikes this year have been in North Waziristan, which has yet to see a Pakistani army offensive.
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Deaths in Pakistan drone attack
At least 20 people killed by US missile strike on suspected Taliban training centre in tribal area near Afghan border.
A US missile strike has destroyed a suspected Taliban training centre in Pakistan's tribal area near the Afghan border, killing at least 20 people.
The missiles, launched from drones, struck a fortress-like compound and a vehicle in Ghulam Khan village in North Waziristan early on Tuesday.
According to a Pakistani intelligence official in the region, the site was manned by Taliban fighters who had just returned from Afghanistan.
Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from the capital, Islamabad, said that one of the missiles destroyed a house in which 16 people were killed, including women and children.
"The other target was a vehicle in which four people are said to have been killed," he said.
"This is coming at a time when the US is escalating drone strikes inside Pakistani territory despite the fact that public opinion is not in favour of such attacks.
"The government on the other hand is keeping mum on such strikes because ... they are dependent on the US for much-needed military equipment and aid. However, recently the government has expressed its concern about the growing number of strikes, particularly when there're civilian casualties involved."
After Tuesday’s strike, alleged Taliban fighters surrounded the destroyed compound and were searching through the rubble while an excavator dug graves for the dead in a nearby cemetery, local intelligence officials said.
Pakistan's bomb fatigue has set in
By Imran Khan in
on November 12th, 2010.
I first reached the bomb site as the day began to break over Karachi. Just hours earlier, a truck carrying 1000kg of explosives had destroyed almost a whole city block.
The work of the Pakistani Taliban.
The scene was a gruesome reminder that Pakistan teeters on the edge of collapse, perhaps saved only by the extraordinary resilience of its citizens.
Resilience that seems to be turning to acceptance. Acceptance that bombings are now part of the country's every day.
My driver Maqbool actually heard the blast. Chain smoking and without a hint of nervousness, he tells me what happened.
"The noise was like a thunderbolt going off inside my head. I was asleep kilometres away from the site, but I heard it. I thought the bomb had gone off in my street. I ran outside and only saw others as confused as me," he recalled.
"In the end it's only God that decides who lives and who dies. We live our lives and put our faith in God. It was not my turn to die last night."
His words were echoed by many of the people I spoke to at the site.
One thing has struck me. In four years of covering Pakistan for Al Jazeera, I have noticed a change in peoples' attitude. It's a sense of weariness at yet another bomb, yet another devastating attack.
Bomb fatigue has set in.
My friends across the country no longer race to their TV screens when news breaks. They no longer sit glued to their televisions, on the edge of their seats as they watch transfixed and in fear.
I don't know if you can call it a normal part of Pakistani life. How could such tragedy and death ever be normal?
But it's a part of the routine here, and there is a sense that bombs occur, and that life continues despite them.
Clearly those who were caught up in the blast and who survived are scarred for life. But for others, well, like I said, it feels like a sense of fatigue has set in.
It was perhaps best illustrated by one reporter who was at the site, surveying the scene. Her words were stark.
"And here we go again ..." she muttered to no one in particular.
I know reporters are a cynical bunch, yet her words were not cynical, but weary.
Walking in the streets around the blast site, you can see small children playing in the wreckage.
You have to wonder about the effect a sustained campaign of violence will have on their generation. What effect will it have on the nation's psyche?
Pakistan had been relatively quiet over the last three months. I say "relatively" since we just witnessed the most devastating floods in the country's history - a tragedy of a different kind.
That led many to wonder whether the Pakistani Taliban were becoming a spent force. It seems that question has now been answered - in a deadly way.
I hope Pakistan never gets used to living with the fear of bombs. No one wants to live in fear, but surely no one wants to live with the numbness that comes with having no fear.
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Osama bin Laden living in comfort in Pakistan, says Nato official
Official says al-Qaida leader was moving between houses in the far north-west of Pakistan, and 'not living in a cave'
Ewen MacAskill in Washington
guardian.co.uk, Monday 18 October 2010 20.25 BST
Osama bin Laden is living in relative comfort in the far north-west of Pakistan, according to a Nato official who has day-to-day responsibility for the war in Afghanistan.
The official, who has access to sensitive intelligence information, told CNN that Bin Laden was not holed up in a cave, but has been moving between houses in the Chitral district and the Kurram valley, which neighbours Tora Bora in Afghanistan, from which he fled in 2001.
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Last Modified: 20 Oct 2010 07:47 GMT