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The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: 80 dead in Pakistani Taliban revenge attack for bin Laden

Bloody revenge The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for a pair of suicide bombings on a Frontier Constabulary training center in Charsadda that left at least 80 dead in what the militant group said was in revenge for the "Abbottabad incident," referring to the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (Reuters, AFP, AP, Dawn, NYT, ...

A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images

Bloody revenge

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for a pair of suicide bombings on a Frontier Constabulary training center in Charsadda that left at least 80 dead in what the militant group said was in revenge for the "Abbottabad incident," referring to the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (Reuters, AFP, AP, Dawn, NYT, Guardian, WSJ, Post). Pakistani police officials, however, were skeptical that the attack, the deadliest in Pakistan since November, was the work of the TTP, and suggested it may have been orchestrated by Omar Khalid’s group, which is currently fighting the Pakistani Army in Mohmand. At least 140 were wounded (BBC, CNN). Yesterday in Karachi, Pakistani police said they arrested four TTP militants who were also affiliated with a Punjabi Taliban group (DT, AFP). And a suspected U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan has just killed at least three (AP, AFP).

Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is briefing the Pakistani parliament later today on bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad and the May 2 U.S. raid that killed him, and some who have met with Kayani recently say he is unlikely to respond to U.S. demands to go after other militant leaders in Pakistan (Dawn, NYT, Reuters). Pakistan said it is launching an inter-agency review to "clearly define the parameters of our cooperation with the U.S. in counterterrorism," as Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani suggested, for the first time in public, that he is open to the possibility of U.S. drone strikes in the tribal areas, given more Pakistani control of the program (AFP, AFP, Time). Declan Walsh has today’s must-read, asking, "Whose side is Pakistan’s ISI [intelligence service] really on?" (Guardian).

Details continue to trickle out about the Abbottabad raid and bin Laden’s life in the compound: U.S. officials say there is no indication bin Laden had a ready escape plan, suggesting he may have become "complacent" (CNN); each of the 25 Navy SEALs who carried out the raid recorded it with a tiny helmet cam (CBS); Frontier Corps officials tell Geo that two U.S. helicopters landed in Swat before heading to Abbottabad, which the government of Khyber-Puktunkhwa said it knew nothing about (Geo); and intelligence analysts continue to dig through the more than 200 million pages recovered from the compound (Tel, Times, Independent). U.S. intelligence has reportedly been able to interview the three bin Laden widows, who were said to be "hostile," and one of whom may be the daughter of an Afghan Taliban commander (CNN, AP). There have been conflicting reports about the nationalities and identities of the women living in bin Laden’s compound.

The AP recounts bin Laden’s trail from September 11, 2001 to early 2003, revising several Western conventional wisdoms about bin Laden’s movements, and Reuters investigates U.S. attempts to hunt the al-Qaeda leader over the years (AP, Reuters). And the NYT assesses that jihadi reactions to bin Laden’s death indicate a void in the group’s leadership (NYT).

Deepening partnerships

As expected, yesterday Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh pledged an additional $500 million in aid to Afghanistan, bringing India’s total investment in the country to some $2 billion, in a move that "is likely to fuel Pakistani suspicions of Indian meddling in what Islamabad sees as its own backyard" (NYT, Tolo, WSJ, AJE). Singh also said India is "not like the U.S." when asked by a reporter if India would launch a raid similar to the U.S.’s in Abbottabad (ET).

Five people were reportedly killed in a cross-border clash between Pakistani tribesmen and Afghan security forces yesterday (Dawn). NATO has apologized for the death of a 12 year old Afghan girl, who was killed along with her uncle in a night raid outside of the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad (NYT). A man wearing an Afghan police uniform has killed an American soldier in Helmand (Pajhwok). 

Virtual battleground

Video game developers have already released several games in which users can reenact bin Laden’s last stand, and in one version, players can choose whether to defend bin Laden or play as the Navy SEALs who carried out the raid (AFP, Kokatu, Toronto Star, NYDN, Wired). One of the games has already been downloaded at least 9,000 times (BBC).

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