Gates: al-Qaeda in Pakistan borderlands

“Al-Qaeda right now seems to have turned its face toward Pakistan and attacks on the Pakistani government and Pakistani people,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Dec. 21. “There is no question that some of the areas in the frontier area have become areas where al-Qaeda has re-established itself.” (LAT, Dec. 21) He spoke one day after Congress slapped restrictions on military aid to Pakistan, withholding $50 million of the administration’s $300 million request until Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice certifies Islamabad is restoring democratic rights. (WP, Dec. 21)

At least 54 people were killed and over 100 injured Dec. 21 when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a packed mosque in Sherpao, Charsadda district, NWFP, where former interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao was offering Eid al-Adha prayers. Sherpao escaped unhurt. Sherpao, who was interior minister in President Pervez Musharraf’s recently dissolved government, is running in the January parliamentary elections. The attack took place in his home village. (Times of India, Dec. 22)

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