February 4, 2023

PAKISTAN: Islamic Militant Suicide Bombing At A Highly Secured Mosque That Killed At Least 100 People. Taliban Claims The Attack Targeting Police Worshippers. Bomber Wore Police Uniform.


Al Jazeera English published January 31, 2023: How much of a security threat is the Pakistani Taliban? Pakistan is mourning roughly a-hundred people killed in a suicide bombing at a mosque in Peshawar. The attack was the latest in a series blamed on the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or the Pakistani Taliban. The attack took place in a highly fortified police compound. So was there a security failure? And can the embattled government win the war against the armed group?
BBC News published January 30, 2023: Dozens killed in Pakistan mosque bomb attack that targeted police. At least 47 people have been killed by a bomb that the country's prime minister claims targeted policemen praying in a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan. The mosque is within the tightly-guarded police headquarters area. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said "terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan". No group has said it carried out the attack, but it has been linked to the Pakistan Taliban.
Feb 1, 2023: Suspects arrested over Pakistan mosque blast, police focus on how bomber got in. Pakistani officials say major arrests have been made in connection with a suicide bombing at a mosque that killed at least 100 people. An investigation is underway into how the bomber got through multiple checkpoints leading to the high security zone, but police aren't ruling out the possibility of "internal assistance". Manny Tsigas reports.

RFI News
written by AFP staff
Saturday January 4, 2023

Islamabad – Islamabad will ask the secretive supreme leader of Afghanistan's Taliban to rein in militants in Pakistan after a suicide bombing killed scores of police in a mosque, officials said Saturday.

Since the Taliban returned to power in Kabul, Pakistan has witnessed a dramatic uptick in attacks in regions bordering Afghanistan, where militants use rugged terrain to stage assaults and escape detection.

Detectives have blamed an affiliate of the Pakistani Taliban -- the most notorious militant outfit in the area -- for the Monday blast in Peshawar which killed 84 people inside a fortified police headquarters.

The Pakistani Taliban share common lineage and ideals with the Afghan Taliban, led by Hibatullah Akhundzada who issues edicts from his hideaway in the southern city of Kandahar.

Special assistant to Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Faisal Karim Kundi, said delegations would be sent to Tehran and Kabul to "ask them to ensure that their soil is not used by terrorists against Pakistan".

A senior Pakistani police official in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where Monday's blast took place told AFP the Kabul delegation would hold "talks with the top brass".

"When we say top brass, it means... Afghan Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada," he said on condition of anonymity.

Afghan officials did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment.

But on Wednesday Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi warned Pakistan should "not pass the blame to others".

"They should see the problems in their own house," he said. "Afghanistan should not be blamed."

During the 20-year US-led intervention in Afghanistan, Islamabad was accused of giving covert support to the Afghan Taliban even as the country proclaimed a military alliance with the United States.

But since the ultra-conservatives seized Kabul in 2021, relations with Pakistan have soured, in part over the resurgence of the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The TTP -- formed in 2007 by Pakistani militants who splintered off from the Afghan Taliban -- once held sway over swathes of northwest Pakistan but were routed by an army offensive after 2014.

But over the first year of Taliban rule, Pakistan witnessed a 50 percent uptick in militant attacks, concentrated in the border regions with Afghanistan and Iran, according to the Pak Institute for Peace Studies.

The TTP, notorious for shooting schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, has "arguably benefitted the most of all the foreign extremist groups in Afghanistan from the Taliban takeover", a UN Security Council report said in May 2022.

Last year Kabul brokered peace talks between Islamabad and the TTP but the shaky truce collapsed.
Voice of America published February 3, 2023: Victims of Pakistan Mosque Suicide Bombing Were Mostly Police, Officials Say. Pakistani authorities say most of the victims of the January 30 deadly suicide attack on a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, were local policemen. Over 100 people were killed and dozens more were injured in the attack.

Reuters News
written by Jibran Ahmad and Saud Mahsud
Thursday February 2, 2023

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - The suicide bomber who killed more than 100 people at a mosque in a police compound in the Pakistan city of Peshawar this week wore a police uniform and entered the high security area on a motorbike, a provincial police chief said on Thursday.

The bomber behind Monday's attack had been identified as a member of a militant network, Moazzam Jah Ansari, police chief of Khyber Pashtunkhwa province, told reporters without giving further details.

"I admit this was a security lapse. My men could not stop it. This is my fault," Ansari said.

The bombing was the deadliest in a decade to hit Peshawar, a northwestern city that has suffered decades of Islamist militant violence and is located near the restive Pashtun tribal lands bordering Afghanistan.

It took place as hundreds of worshippers gathered for noon prayers at a mosque that was purpose built for the police and their families inside the high-security Police Lines district.

Ansari said the CCTV footage showed the bomber, wearing a helmet and a mask, riding his motorbike through the main checkpoint of Police Lines. He then parked his bike, asked directions to the mosque and walked there, Ansari added.

"The police guards at the main entrance thought he was a member of the force; they didn't check him," Ansari said.

A day earlier, the police chief said investigators were not ruling out that the attacker could have had "internal assistance". Several suspects were in police custody, he said.

All but three of those killed were police officers, making it the worst attack on Pakistani security forces in recent history.

Police Lines is a colonial-era, self-contained encampment in that houses middle- and lower-ranking police personnel and their families in the provincial capital. Hundreds of police staged demonstrations across the province to protest the attack.

The most active militant group in the area, the Pakistani Taliban, also called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has recently increased attacks on police in the northwestern province as part of its campaign against the government in Islamabad.

The TTP has denied responsibility for the mosque attack.

Pakistani officials say they suspect a breakaway faction of the TTP called Jamat-ul-Ahrar was involved.

Jamat-ul-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for several major attacks in the region over the years, including the twin suicide bombings at All Saints Church that killed scores of worshippers in September 2013, in what remains the most deadly assault on the country's Christian minority.

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