Daily brief: double suicide blasts rock Lahore

A day of devastation In the fifth attack in Pakistan this week, and the second in Lahore, two nearly simultaneous suicide bombers detonated explosives in a bazaar in the country’s cultural capital earlier today, as people were sitting down before the main Friday prayers began (AP, Reuters, BBC, Geo, NYT, WSJ). At least 45 were ...

STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images

A day of devastation

In the fifth attack in Pakistan this week, and the second in Lahore, two nearly simultaneous suicide bombers detonated explosives in a bazaar in the country's cultural capital earlier today, as people were sitting down before the main Friday prayers began (AP, Reuters, BBC, Geo, NYT, WSJ). At least 45 were killed, including about ten Pakistani soldiers, and nearly 100 were wounded in the strikes which appeared to target a pair of Army vehicles. Eight attacks have left more than 170 dead in Lahore in the last year (AFP). There have not yet been any claims of responsibility.

Yesterday in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar, which had been relatively calm recently, four people were killed when an 11-pound homemade bomb exploded outside a store that often screens movies on a big television (Aaj, AP, Dawn). Also yesterday, unknown gunmen shot at the car belonging to the head of the banned anti-Shia group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan in Karachi, killing the man's son and injuring him and a few others (AFP, Daily Times, Geo, The News). Similarly, unidentified shooters later killed the leader of a hard-line Sunni organization yesterday in Karachi; authorities say Shiites are suspected, and sectarian tension has been high in the Sindhi capital lately. And analysts suggest that Pakistani militants are down but not out (Reuters).

A day of devastation

In the fifth attack in Pakistan this week, and the second in Lahore, two nearly simultaneous suicide bombers detonated explosives in a bazaar in the country’s cultural capital earlier today, as people were sitting down before the main Friday prayers began (AP, Reuters, BBC, Geo, NYT, WSJ). At least 45 were killed, including about ten Pakistani soldiers, and nearly 100 were wounded in the strikes which appeared to target a pair of Army vehicles. Eight attacks have left more than 170 dead in Lahore in the last year (AFP). There have not yet been any claims of responsibility.

Yesterday in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar, which had been relatively calm recently, four people were killed when an 11-pound homemade bomb exploded outside a store that often screens movies on a big television (Aaj, AP, Dawn). Also yesterday, unknown gunmen shot at the car belonging to the head of the banned anti-Shia group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan in Karachi, killing the man’s son and injuring him and a few others (AFP, Daily Times, Geo, The News). Similarly, unidentified shooters later killed the leader of a hard-line Sunni organization yesterday in Karachi; authorities say Shiites are suspected, and sectarian tension has been high in the Sindhi capital lately. And analysts suggest that Pakistani militants are down but not out (Reuters).

In an apparent message to its "nefarious" neighbor to the east, Pakistan’s navy successfully test-fired a series of torpedoes and missiles from aircraft, submarines, and ships yesterday in the Arabian Sea (CNN, AFP, AP). It’s unclear whether the weapons were capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Changing courses

About 500 British troops are being redeployed from the Musa Qala area of northern Helmand province as U.S. forces assume security for the town where 23 British soldiers have been killed since 2006 as control passed back and forth between the U.K. forces and the Taliban (BBC, Independent, Reuters, Guardian). NATO soldiers captured Musa Qala in early 2006, handed control of security to tribal elders in a peace deal supported by the Afghan government, and had to recapture the area in late 2007 after the Taliban returned earlier that year.

U.S. and Afghan officials are revamping the program to train Afghan police, emphasizing better recruitment and training before deployment (Wash Post). A key part of the plan is to send up to 3,000 top officers each year to Jordan and Turkey to receive specialized instruction, and to purge corrupt policemen from the force.

A six-week-old agreement between U.S. forces and the Shinwari tribe in eastern Afghanistan to turn against the Taliban in exchange for development aid seems to be shaky, as intra-tribal rivalries over an "ancient land dispute" recently erupted into conflict that left at least 13 dead (NYT). A tribal elder from one of the branches involved in the land argument said, "We promised to work with the government to fight the Taliban… Government officials should have taken care of this argument among us before the shooting started."

And the LA Times looks at the rift seen by some officials between al-Qaeda, which is believed to have fewer than 100 fighters in Afghanistan, and the Afghan Taliban (LAT). Barbara Sude, a former CIA analyst who recently authored a paper on al-Qaeda for the New America Foundation, commented, "If the Taliban is telling them to get lost, that creates a problem for al-Qaeda. Maybe that’s the beginning of what we’re seeing."

Lahore’s lion king

A pair of newborn lion cubs was christened yesterday at the Lahore Zoo (Daily Times). Expenses for the cubs, who were dubbed Ruki and Nuki, will be paid by a group of local families who agreed to support them.

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