The South Asia Channel

Scores of Pakistanis killed and wounded Sunday as bombings rock country

Overwhelming violence At least 50 people were killed and more than 100 were injured in three separate bomb blasts in Pakistan on Sunday.  In Quetta, at least 30 people were killed and dozens were wounded when a suicide bomber on a bicycle detonated his explosives near a Shi’a mosque in the Hazara section of the ...

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

Overwhelming violence

At least 50 people were killed and more than 100 were injured in three separate bomb blasts in Pakistan on Sunday.  In Quetta, at least 30 people were killed and dozens were wounded when a suicide bomber on a bicycle detonated his explosives near a Shi’a mosque in the Hazara section of the city (BBC, NYT).  The bomber, who was stopped at a checkpoint created by local volunteers, blew himself up shortly after evening prayers (Pajhwok).  A spokesman for Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a militant group with a long history of attacking the Hazara community, claimed responsibility for the attack (Reuters). 

The bombing in Quetta followed an earlier attack on a Frontier Corps convoy in Peshawar that killed at least 17 civilians and wounded around 50 others on Sunday (BBC, NYT, Post).  A car bomb, parked near a police station and a crowded market, was detonated remotely when the convoy drove past.  While there has been no official claim of responsibility, Pakistani police officers named three Pakistani Taliban commanders believed to be involved during their initial investigation (Dawn). 

The third bombing occurred in North Waziristan when militants detonated a roadside bomb, killing four members of a local anti-Taliban militia and wounding at least 15 others (LAT, RFEFL).

The attacks came as British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Pakistan for talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, pledging to work with the country to fight terrorism and bring peace to Afghanistan (Guardian, Reuters).  Both leaders agreed to tackle extremism and terrorism with "renewed vigor," and Cameron offered to help Pakistan with its counterterrorism strategy, including sharing Britain’s knowledge of protecting sporting events.  No foreign cricket team has toured Pakistan since 2009, when militants attacked a Sri Lankan team bus, killing 7 and wounding several others.  Last year, London hosted the Summer Olympics, which was protected by the largest peacetime operation OF Britain’s armed forces. Cameron became the first head of state to hold face-to-face talks with Prime Minister Sharif. 

The violence in Pakistan continued on Monday when two policemen were killed during a militant attack on a security checkpoint on the outskirts of Peshawar (Dawn, ET).  Unknown assailants on motorcycles opened fire on the outpost, killing two of the officers on duty.  In a village near Srinagar, a policeman and an unidentified civilian were killed during a protest against the weekend deaths of two civilians, allegedly committed by members of Pakistan’s army (ET).  And in Balochistan, three laborers were killed and four were injured while they slept when unidentified gunmen opened fire on the group (Dawn). 

Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Pakistani Christian girl who was accused last year of burning the Koran, has fled to Canada with her family (BBC, RFERL, Telegraph).  In August 2012, Masih was charged with blasphemy after a Muslim cleric accused her of burning pages from the Koran.  The cleric has since been accused of framing Masih, but her family fled due to continuing death threats. 

Thwarted attack

Afghan security forces shot and killed a would-be suicide bomber in central Kabul on Monday, likely preventing an attack on Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (AFP, Pajhwok).  The unidentified attacker, who was wearing a military uniform, was killed around 8 am as he approached the intelligence agency’s facilities. 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with jihadi leaders and political officials on Sunday to discuss the country’s stance on the joint U.S.-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) (Pajhwok).  Karzai, who suspended BSA negotiations after the Taliban opened a political office in Qatar, said the talks should resume after Taliban representatives in Qatar begin reconciliation talks with Afghan High Peace Council members. 

After the diplomatic firestorm that erupted over the Taliban’s office opening, sources close to the Afghan government have said the insurgent group is sharply divided over what to do next (Pajhwok).  According to these sources, the removal of the organization’s flag and a controversial plaque that read "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" has prompted some ultraorthodox figures to think about forming a splinter group called Fidayee Mahaz (Suicide Front).  Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, denied the claim as enemy propaganda and political commentators have also questioned the creation of a splinter group, though they do agree with the assessment that the Taliban is not quite sure how to proceed with the peace talks.

Tehzeeb melody

Last week, Pakistani musicians celebrated their heritage at the Tehzeeb Classical Music Festival in Karachi (ET). The show’s finale featured Ustad Altaf Hussain Tafoo Khan, who wowed the audience by demonstrating 100 different ways of playing the drum and tabla. 

— Jennifer Rowland and Bailey Cahall 

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