At least 10 killed and 20 wounded in twin blasts at Pakistani mosques

Event Notice: Jihad and Politics in North Africa. MONDAY, May 20. 12:00-1:30PM (NAF). Friday explosions rock Malakand Two bombs exploded near different mosques in the Bazdara area of Malakand in northwest Pakistan after prayers on Friday, killing 10 and injuring at least 20 others, though the number of casualties is expected to rise (Dawn, ET). Emergency and ...

ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images
ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images
ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images

Event Notice: Jihad and Politics in North Africa. MONDAY, May 20. 12:00-1:30PM (NAF).

Friday explosions rock Malakand

Event Notice: Jihad and Politics in North Africa. MONDAY, May 20. 12:00-1:30PM (NAF).

Friday explosions rock Malakand

Two bombs exploded near different mosques in the Bazdara area of Malakand in northwest Pakistan after prayers on Friday, killing 10 and injuring at least 20 others, though the number of casualties is expected to rise (DawnET). Emergency and rescue teams are at the scene and investigations into the incident are underway. Elsewhere, the driver of a NATO supply truck was shot and killed by gunmen on Thursday as he drove through the Jamrud area of Khyber, one of seven districts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Dawn). There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack. 

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has rejected Imran Khan’s request to recount votes in Lahore’s NA-122 constituency (ET). On Thursday, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chairman gave the ECP three days to accept his parties demand to recount votes in six different constituencies. No word was given about the other recount requests.  The ECP also rejected the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s request to re-poll the entire NA-250 constituency of Karachi (ET).  

Police on Friday arrested Wazir Gul, the head of an inter-provincial gang of kidnappers suspected of capturing Ali Haider Gilani, though there is still no sign of former prime minster Yousaf Raza Gilani’s son (DawnET).  On Thursday, security personnel rescued one captive and arrested four abductors, including Gul’s brother, Mullah. The search for Gilani continues in Nowshera, where Thursday’s arrests occurred, and Charsadda, where Gul was arrested.

Deadliest month

The death toll from yesterday’s suicide bombing in Kabul now stands confirmed at 15, with an additional 42 wounded (DawnGuardianLATPajhwok).  Two NATO soldiers (whose nationalities remain unknown), four American contractors, and nine Afghan civilians, including two children on their way to school, were killed when a suicide bomber rammed a car laden with explosives into a military convoy Thursday morning. With this attack, May has become the deadliest month for coalition forces in Afghanistan; 18 service members have been killed in the last 17 days (Post).

Hezb-i-Islami, the militant group responsible for yesterday’s suicide bombing, said Thursday’s attack marked the start of a stepped-up campaign against foreign troops in Afghanistan and promised more such assaults (NYT). While Haroon Zarghoun, a group spokesman, said U.S. military advisors were the specific targets in this attack, another spokesman, Zubair Sediqqi, stated they would also target Afghans working with foreigners (GuardianLAT). A group once allied with the United States and considered to be more moderate than the Taliban, Hezb-i-Islami is formally split into two different factions – one that is embedded in the Afghan government and includes the ministers of agriculture, education, and economy, and one that reports to leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in Pakistan (Post).  

An Afghan woman whose husband was killed in the March 2012 massacre of 17 civilians that was allegedly carried out by U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales broke with tribal traditions to tell journalists from the Associated Press her account of the grisly murder (AP). Masooma, who like many Afghans only goes by one name, described how a U.S. soldier in military uniform dragged her husband out of their bedroom and then shot him before returning to the room, where he punched her 7-year-old son in the head repeatedly, shook her two-year-old daughter by her pigtails, and put the barrel of his pistol in the mouth of her crying infant. The Army is seeking the death penalty in Bales’ court-martial.

Two insurgent groups in northern Balkh and Faryab provinces have joined the Afghan peace process, according to the National Security Directorate, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency (Pajhwok). The 45 fighters turned in their weapons on Friday and asked about work opportunities in their areas.  They join the more than 6,000 other militants who have reportedly joined the peace process since 2010, 4,500 of whom have been provided with work opportunities.

Speedy recovery

After fracturing three vertebrae, cracking a rib, and cutting his scalp during a 15-foot fall from a forklift ten days ago, PTI leader Imran Khan will likely walk out of the hospital in the next 10 to 12 days, according to PTI Vice President Asad Umar (Dawn). While Umar said Khan might participate in protests against election rigging after his release, it seems fairly certain he will be doing so from ground-level.

— Jennifer Rowland and Bailey Cahall 

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