Al Qaeda has murdered 41 more Muslims in a failed attack on former Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao. This is their second failed attempt, last April they murdered 25 Muslims and injured his son in a failed attack on him, this time Sherpao is uninjured but his son was hurt again. The attack took place inside the Mosque in Sherpao’s home town of Charsadda. More from Reuters:
CHARSADDA, Pakistan (Reuters) – A suicide bomber killed at least 41 people in a mosque in northwest Pakistan on Friday where a former interior minister was offering Muslim Eid festival prayers with worshippers, officials said.
Intelligence officials said as many as 50 people may have died when the attacker detonated explosives inside the mosque but the number could not be immediately confirmed by police.
The former minister, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, survived unhurt but at least 61 people were wounded in the blast. Ten of the wounded were in a critical condition, Federal Secretary of Interior Syed Kamal Shah told Reuters.
Taliban Attacks Minister; Warnings to Sherpao
Suicide Attack Injures Sherpao and Son, Kills 25
AP and CNN are reporting a Suicide Bomber attack on the Interior Minister of Pakistan, Aftab Khan Sherpao. Sherpao is one of the most visible and popular leaders in the NWFP, and although he sits on the opposition bench, he’s been very supportive of Musharaaf’s moves in the region. Sherpao has also long been seen by some as a possible successor to Musharaaf if the PML ever got pushed aside by the PPP (it’s unlikely that Benazir Bhutto could ever return andÂ hold office except by proxy due to the widely unpopular corruption of her tenure.)
A suicide attacker detonated a bomb at a public meeting in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 12 people and wounding the country’s interior minister, police said.
Security guards blocked the attacker as he tried to get close to Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao after he had finished his speech at the meeting in Charsadda, an intelligence official said. The attacker detonated the bomb moments later.
Mohammed Khan, a police official, said the minister suffered minor injuries and was in stable condition. He was being shifted to a hospital in the nearby city of Peshawar.
Khan said at least 24 people were wounded, at least 10 critically.
Khan said the son of Sherpao, Sikandar Khan Sherpao, and some lawmakers and security officials were among the injured.
The intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of his job, said investigators had found the head of the suicide bomber. He had no details on the attacker’s identity.
Things are heating up in Waziristan, and it’s possible this could be a retaliation strike. Please stop by The Fourth Rail to see what might be driving the retaliation.
More on the the Sherpao family’s rise to political power in Pakistan here and here.
Update: The death toll has now risen to
25 28 31 and newer reports state that the suicide bomber was Afghani. In the Daily Times a former Intelligence Bureau employee states the raids are “retaliatory”. While both statements could be agitprop, they have the feel of truth to me.
More and more refugees who have been taken in the past few years are being pushed out of Pakistan, and some are losing property, wealth and positions in the process. There’s bound to be some pushback, however if Pakistan wants a reasonable future it can’t continue to host refugees who have no good reason not to return to their native lands.
The other thing in the background are the old-guard ISI who use these disaffected refugees as tools by paying the mullahs bribes. Whenever something like this occurs it’s an almost automatic that if you dig deep enough you will find some connection to Hamid Gul — I have not seen one here yet, but certainly would not be surprised if I did.
From Daily Times:
Former Intelligence Bureau chief Massod Sharif while talking to a private TV channel on Saturday said suicide blasts in Pakistan were the reaction to military action in the tribal areas of the NWFP. This is the internal reactionary force resorting to suicide attacks to register their protests against incidents like the bombing of Bajaur madrassa and military action in Waziristan, Sharif said in Geo television’s programme “Meray Mutabiq.” Muttahida Qaumi Movement Convener Dr Imran Farooq condemned the blast saying the moment had come for all the people against religious extremism to join hands and make a joint strategy to counter terrorism and religious extremism. Awami National Party head Asfand Yar Wali said if the present situation continued the future of Pakistan was in danger. He said the security situation in NWFP was alarming. Suicide bombers register and ensure their presence by killing innocent people whenever they want and if the country’s interior minister is in danger, then the people have much to fear, said Geo television’s senior analyst Dr Shahid Masood while commenting on the Charsadda blast. He said the suicide bombers were reminding the government that they were still strong and could hit anyone. He suspected that in the present situation it would become very difficult for Aftab Sherpao, Asfand Yar Wali and all the liberal forces in NWFP to continue their politics in the province.
Yet another possible motive is speculated on in the Editorial section Daily Times. This one is as possible as the others, even if this isn’t the motive, the editorial is an interesting read that I recommend.
One last note : As of now Pakistanis in general are pretty mad about this, now that the crows are roosting in their faces they are angry.