10/28/2020, 12.29
PAKISTAN
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Toll from Zubairia madrassa attack in Peshawar rises to eight dead and 120 wounded

by Shafique Khokhar

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the terrorist act, which is similar to the attack at a local military school six years ago. The authorities are criticised for collusion with extremist groups. The massacre comes as peace talks are underway in Afghanistan between the government and the Taliban.

Peshawar (AsiaNews) - The toll from yesterday’s bomb attack on the Zubairia madrassa in Peshawar now stands at eight dead and 120 injured, this according to sources from Lady Reading Hospital.

Police reported that all the victims were students attending a Qurʼānic seminary; two teachers were among the wounded.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the terrorist act; five kilos of explosive were used in the explosion.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the "cowardly attack,” stating that the fight against terrorists and their extremist ideology will be won, and that those responsible for these heinous crimes against humanity will be brought to justice.

For Amer Kakkazai, a researcher and writer from Peshawar, the attack is similar to the tragic attack on a military school six years ago, when a group of armed men killed 150 people, most of them very young students.

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [province] has faced terrorism for 20 years,” Kakkazai told AsiaNews. “The saddest part is that Muslims kill other Muslims in the name of religion.”

The scholar criticises the work of the security forces and the various governments that have ruled in recent years, guilty in his view of doing nothing to defeat terrorist groups.

“Targeting small kids in schools and madrassas is a heinous crime.  The authorities must provide security to citizens and stop giving patronage to terrorist organisations in the name of national security” or geopolitical interests.

According to government sources, cited by The Dawn newspaper, the attack does not bear the hallmark of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan or its affiliates; it appears to be the work of a new and well-trained terrorist group.

Ata-ur-Rehman Saman, human rights activist and coordinator of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, notes that the attack was carried out whilst peace talks are underway in Afghanistan, where Pakistan’s security forces have always exerted substantial influence.

On 14 September, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad visited Islamabad to facilitate the reconciliation efforts between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The aim of the attack in Peshawar, Saman notes, may have been peace efforts. “Hopefully, the Pakistani government will consider every aspect regarding the changing situation in the region,” he added.

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