At least 25 people killed over the weekend in Quetta attacks

Widespread attacks A separatist group and a militant organization attacked a variety of targets in Quetta on Saturday, killing at least 25 people and shaking the newly formed government (ET, NYT, Reuters).  Early Saturday morning, the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army destroyed the former Ziarat residence of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in a bomb attack, claiming it ...

BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

Widespread attacks

A separatist group and a militant organization attacked a variety of targets in Quetta on Saturday, killing at least 25 people and shaking the newly formed government (ET, NYT, Reuters).  Early Saturday morning, the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army destroyed the former Ziarat residence of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in a bomb attack, claiming it was a "symbol of slavery" from the former British Empire (ET).  Hours later, a female suicide bomber from the anti-Shi'a group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi attacked a bus from the Sardar Bahadur Khan Women's University, killing at least 14 students and wounding dozens of others (Dawn, ET).  Once the injured were moved to a nearby hospital, a male suicide bomber detonated his explosives vest in the building's emergency room, killing at least eight more people, and gunmen stormed the building, launching a firefight with security officials that last several hours (ET).

Widespread attacks

A separatist group and a militant organization attacked a variety of targets in Quetta on Saturday, killing at least 25 people and shaking the newly formed government (ET, NYT, Reuters).  Early Saturday morning, the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army destroyed the former Ziarat residence of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in a bomb attack, claiming it was a "symbol of slavery" from the former British Empire (ET).  Hours later, a female suicide bomber from the anti-Shi’a group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi attacked a bus from the Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University, killing at least 14 students and wounding dozens of others (Dawn, ET).  Once the injured were moved to a nearby hospital, a male suicide bomber detonated his explosives vest in the building’s emergency room, killing at least eight more people, and gunmen stormed the building, launching a firefight with security officials that last several hours (ET).

In response to the twin suicide attacks, the Balochistan government observed a day of mourning Sunday and local businesses observed a shutter-down strike in Quetta (Dawn).  The women’s university also released a state saying it was closed for an indefinite period of time to mourn the deaths of the 14 female students who died in the attack.  Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who expressed condolences on behalf of the government, announced that all of those killed at the hospital complex would be awarded a medal of courage for laying down their lives for the country (ET).  Khan also said Jinnah’s Ziarat residence would be restored to its original condition in about three to four months (ET). 

Both members of a two-man polio vaccination team died Sunday after being gunned down by suspected militants in Swabi district (ET).  The two men were administering anti-polio drops when gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire.  Two police officers were guarding the men but, according to eyewitnesses, fled when the firing began. 

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, released an audio statement Saturday rejecting an order from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to end the merger with Syria’s al-Nusra Front (Post).  The merger between the two al Qaeda affiliates, which was announced by Baghdadi in April, created a cross-border movement known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. 

Ready to lead

A joint Afghan-NATO transition board met in Kabul Sunday and agreed that Afghan forces were ready to take over security for the country (Pajhwok).  Afghan security forces number around 350,000 and will take the lead combat role sometime this week (BBC).  As the Afghans have taken over operations, their casualty rate has also increased, particularly in Sangin province (NYT).  In an area that has already seen high numbers of British and American deaths, Afghan security forces have lost about 20 officers in over three weeks of fighting with the Taliban while another 35 have been wounded.

At least 15 Taliban insurgents were killed and five others were detained in Logar province Saturday during a joint security operation (Pajhwok).  Coalition forces provided air support for the Afghan security personnel on the ground, and there were no civilian casualties.  Elsewhere in Uruzgan province, six civilians were killed and four were wounded Sunday when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb (Pajhwok). 

Mohammad Nabi Ilham, the police chief of Helmand province, survived a suicide attack in Lashkar Gah early Monday morning, but two of his guards and a nearby shopkeeper were injured (AP, Pajhwok).  An unidentified attacker drove his explosives-laden car into Ilham’s vehicle as he headed to work Monday. 

While there are still no official candidates for next year’s presidential election, an anonymous source told Pajhwok on Sunday that several key political parties have rallied behind Commerce and Industries Minister Anwarul Haq Ahadi (Pajhwok).  Ahadi, who briefly ran for president in 2009, was reportedly picked as a consensus candidate during a meeting at the residence of Wihdat Party leader Haji Mohammed Muhaqqiq on Friday.  Attendees included Economy Minister and Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan leader Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, and former Interior Minister Hanif Atmar.  While the decision on Ahadi’s candidacy has not been confirmed, spokesmen for Arghandiwal denied reports that he had participated in the meeting.

Defense of others

At a judicial hearing last week, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan said he was protecting Taliban leaders in Afghanistan on November 5, 2009, when he opened fire at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas and killed 13 people (NYT).  While the judge has postponed any rulings on that defense strategy, former military lawyers claim Hasan failed to meet the legal criteria of "defense of others," which requires proof that defendants were protecting victims of unlawful force and faced immediate threat or danger.  They claim the threat to the Taliban was neither immediate nor unlawful.

— Bailey Cahall 

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