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.