So who was behind this one? Takes place near Peshawar’s main Sunni mosque, but also near the city’s Shi’ite community center, and during the Shi’ite holy month of Moharram. Some people specualte these ongoing outrages are a CIA conspiracy. But if so, the Agency has been very busy indeed—as we have pointed out again and again and again. From the UAE’s Gulf News, Jan. 28:
At least 15 people were killed, including two senior police officers, when a parcel bomb ripped through a market in northwestern Pakistan late yesterday, police and officials said.
A police spokesman said nearly 30 people were also injured in the explosion that occurred in Qisakhawani bazaar in Peshawar, capital of Northwest Frontier province bordering Afghanistan.
It was unknown who was behind the explosion, but Pakistan has been braced for a fresh outburst of sectarian violence during the Islamic month of Moharram, when the country’s Shiite minority mourns the death of one of their sect’s heroes.
While the blast occurred just metres away from Qasim Ali Khan mosque, the largest Sunni mosque in the city, it was also close to a Shiite community centre, which had just been visited by the police caught in the explosion.
“When they went out there was an explosion. It terrified us, the noise was deafening,” Sayed Qainul Hassan, in charge of the community centre, said.
Police officer Chaudhry Ashraf said most of the dead were policemen, and half a dozen police were wounded.
A Reuters journalist saw the corpses of three civilians being carried through a hospital by men chanting anti-government slogans.
A power cut in the city made it difficult to gather all the details, officials said.
Notes The Australian, Jan. 29:
[B]eyond laying the blame squarely at the door of Taliban- and al-Qa’ida-linked organisations, investigators said they were looking at ties to an organisation known as Khudamul Furqan, believed to have taken part in several attacks on Christian churches in Pakistan.
The leader of the movement, Abdul Jabbar, lived in Afghanistan until the fall of the Taliban regime and is believed to have formed Khudamul Furqan after being linked to the Kashmiri-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad, which is in turned linked to al-Qa’ida.
The Peshawar bomb is no less portentous from General Musharraf’s point of view. Investigators last night said they were uncertain whether it was linked to a Shia procession marking the annual festival of Ashoura near amosque in the Qisakhawani bazaar.
But, investigators say, the bomber clearly went for the police contingent guarding the procession, killing the high-profile police chief and six senior officers in the closest big Pakistani city to the Afghan border.
This was the second suicide attack in Pakistan in as many days. From the Times of India, Jan. 28:
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has formed a special team to investigate the suicide attack on the Marriot hotel and are probing possible Taliban link to the attack, hours before the Indian High Commissioner held a Republic Day reception there.
Interior secretary Sayed Kamal Shah said a special unit of the Federal Investigation Agency, headed by a DIG, has been formed to investigate the blast. A suicide bomber on Friday tried to storm the hotel hours before a reception there by Indian High Commissioner Satyabrata Pal to mark the Republic Day, killing himself and a security guard and injuring seven others.
See our last post on Pakistan.