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    » 01/15/2008, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    After the bombing in Karachi, the country fears an escalation of terrorism

    Qaiser Felix

    Yesterday's explosion in the capital of the province of Sindh killed at least 10 persons; both Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto's husband were in the city. The Daily Times speaks of a vast terrorist plan against religious targets during the current month of Muharram. A report from the think tank Pak Institute for Peace Studies warns of a strong presence of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the tribal areas, and records 1,442 attacks and acts of political violence in 2007 alone.

    Islamabad (AsiaNews) - In Pakistan there are fears of an escalation of terrorist violence following the attack that killed 10 persons yesterday and wounded 50 more, in Karachi in the south of Pakistan. The information comes from official sources in the province of Sindh, the capital of which is Karachi. The explosives, placed on a motorcycle, exploded in the neighbourhood of Quaidabad, while president Pervez Musharraf was in the city, as well as Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in Rawalpindi last December 27. This was the second terrorist attack since the beginning of 2008: on January 10, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside of the high court in Lahore, killing 25 persons.

    Akhtar Zamin, the interior minister of Sindh, says that the identity of the people responsible for the attack is not yet clear, but he conjectures that they were intending to block elections and destroy peace in the city.

    A crescendo of violence is now widely expected. According to the Daily Times newspaper, the interior ministry has warned that activists of the defunct Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) group and Taliban militants are planning attacks on religious and political leaders and on places of worship in 9 of Pakistan's cities, during the Muslim holy month of Muharram (which began on January 9). The recent report from a private think tank, released on January 4, warns of an escalation of terrorist activity, and describes as "highly unsatisfactory" the situation in Pakistan in 2007. The study, prepared by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), indicates the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the two cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad as the most susceptible areas, where "Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives" continue to strike Pakistan's army and security forces.

    The same report records that in 2007 alone, there were 1,442 acts of violence between terrorist attacks and politically motivated incidents, for a total of 5,353 persons wounded and 3,448 dead, including 1,974 civilians. The most heavily struck zones remain the tribal areas: of the victims, 1,096 were in the NWFP alone. The document, based on information collected from newspapers, magazines, and official sources, reports that over the entire year 1,008 terrorists were killed, and 1,636 terror suspects were captured by security forces.

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    See also

    04/02/2008 PAKISTAN
    Another bomb in Rawalpindi: 7 dead, all soldiers
    A fresh suicide attack targeted an army convoy close to a busy bazaar this morning. According to early estimates there are dozens of seriously injured. Authorities point to the Taleban, but experts hesitate: the bombs aim to undermine February 18th elections.

    29/09/2008 PAKISTAN
    Marriot hotel bombing, a response to anti-terrorist offensive
    Army sources explain ongoing offensive against al-Qaeda extremists, saying the hotel attack was a response to their success. The country is pervaded by an atmosphere of terror as people wait for the next major attack.

    19/10/2007 PAKISTAN
    “I was on the truck with Bhutto when all hell broke loose,” said Shahbaz Bhatti
    The chairman of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) witnessed yesterday’s terrorist attack in Karachi. The death toll now stands at 138 with more than 400 people wounded. Police blame terrorists; for Ms Bhutto’s husband, elements within the government are the culprits.

    06/09/2008 PAKISTAN
    Asif Ali Zardari is Pakistan's new president
    The president-elect, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party and widower of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, crushed the competition. His most urgent challenges include the fight against terrorism and the economic crisis. Voting marked by an attack in Peshawar that killed 16 people.

    27/03/2009 PAKISTAN
    Mosque attacked in Pakistan. At least 70 dead
    A suicide attacker blew himself up shortly after the start of Friday prayers. There were more than 400 faithful present at the place of worship. The tribal areas on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan are the theater of a massive offensive by rebel groups, and of a sectarian struggle between Sunnis and Shiites.



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