Pakistan: suicide blast at girls school

Five people were killed March 2 in a suicide attack on a girls’ school in Pishin district of Pakistan’s conflicted Baluchistan region. At least 12 were injured in the attack, which took place as Maulana Mohammed Khan Shirani, leader of the Jamiat-e-Ulemae Islam (JUI) political party, arrived to attend a function. Witnesses said the bomber was a teenaged man, who detonated his explosives after being stopped by security guards. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Maulana Shirani is a prominent opponent of Pakistani Taliban. (AKI, Italy; Gulf Times, Qatar, March 2)

Although previously considered an avid supporter of the Taliban, Shirani’s JUI also forged close ties to the Musharraf regime failed to observe a boycott of last year’s elections by other Islamist parties. A March 2 BBC News account indicates he was among the Islamist leaders who have openly broken with the Taliban following the peace deal brokered in the North West Frontier Province’s Swat Valley.

Meanwhile, militants of the Baluchistan Liberation United Front (BLUF) that are holding an American UN official hostage issued a statement threatening to kill him in four days if their demands are not met. John Solecki, who headed the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Quetta was abducted at gunpoint on Feb. 2 while traveling to work. The threat to kill him was made in a letter sent by the BLUF to a local news agency. (Press TV, Iran, March 2)

See our last post on Pakistan.