Home > Terrorism, World News > Pakistan suicide bombs kill 80 to avenge bin Laden death

Pakistan suicide bombs kill 80 to avenge bin Laden death

EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT – People injured in twin suicide bombs attacks
arrive at a local hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan on Friday, May 13,
2011. Twin explosions struck a paramilitary training center in
northwestern Pakistan on Friday, in the bloodiest attack in the country
since a U.S. raid killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

(Mohammad Zubair / AP)


HABQADAR, Pakistan (AP) — A pair of Taliban
suicide bombers attacked paramilitary police recruits eagerly heading
home for a break after months of training, killing 80 people Friday in
the first act of retaliation for the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

In claiming responsibility, the al-Qaida linked militant group cited anger at Pakistan’s military for failing to stop the American incursion on their soil.

The
blasts in the northwest were a reminder of the savagery of Islamist
insurgents in Pakistan. Tensions also have risen between the U.S. and
Islamabad over allegations that some elements of Pakistani security
forces had been harboring bin Laden, who died in a May 2 raid in
Abbottabad, a garrison town about three hours’ drive from the scene of
the bombing.

“We have done this to avenge the Abbottabad incident,” Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, told The Associated Press in a phone call. He warned that the group was also planning attacks on Americans living inside Pakistan.

The
bombers blew themselves up in Shabqadar at the main gate of the
facility for the Frontier Constabulary, a poorly equipped but front-line
force in the battle against al-Qaida and allied Islamist groups like
the Pakistani Taliban close to the Afghan border. Like other branches of
Pakistan’s security forces, it has received U.S. funding to try to
sharpen its skills.

At least 80 people were killed, including 66 recruits, and around 120 people were wounded, said police officer Liaqat Ali Khan.

Around
900 young men were leaving the center after spending six months of
training there. They were in high spirits and looking forward to seeing
their families, for which some had brought gifts, a survivor said.
Some
people were sitting inside public minivans and others were loading
luggage atop the vehicles when the bombers struck, witnesses said.

“We
were heading toward a van when the first blast took place and we fell
on the ground and then there was another blast,” said 21-year-old Rehmanullah Khan. “We enjoyed our time together, all the good and bad weather and I cannot forget the cries of my friends before they died.”

The scene was littered with shards of glass mixed with blood and flesh. The explosions destroyed at least 10 vans.

It was the first major militant attack in Pakistan since bin Laden’s death on May 2, and the deadliest this year.

Militants had pledged to avenge the killing and launch reprisal strikes in Pakistan.

The
Taliban spokesman suggested the attack was aimed as punishment against
Pakistani authorities for failing to stop the unilateral U.S. raid that
killed bin Laden, something that has sparked popular nationalist and
Islamist anger.

“The Pakistani army has failed to protect its land,” Ahsan said.

In
its communications, the Taliban often tries to tap into popular
sentiments in the country, where anti-Americanism is often stronger than
feelings against Islamist militants. This is despite militant attacks
over the last four years claiming the lives of many hundreds, if not
thousands, of civilians.

Some
350 lawyers sympathetic with Islamists attended special prayers for bin
Laden on the premises of the provincial high court in the eastern city
of Lahore on Friday. The lawyers cursed the May 2 raid, chanting “Down
with America.”

The explosive vests used in Friday’s attacks were packed with ball bearings and nails, police said.

Police official Nisar Khan said a suicide bomber in his late teens or early 20s set off one of the blasts.

“The
first blast occurred in the middle of the road, and after that there
was a huge blast that was more powerful than the first,” said Abdul Wahid, a 25-year-old recruit whose legs were wounded in the blasts.

Bin
Laden, the Sept. 11 mastermind, and at least four others were killed by
U.S. Navy SEALs who raided his compound in Abbottabad. Bin Laden is
believed to have lived in the large house for up to six years.

Pakistani officials have denied knowing he was there but criticized the U.S. raid ordered by President Barack Obama
as a violation of their country’s sovereignty. To counter allegations
that Pakistan harbored bin Laden, the officials point out that thousands
of Pakistani citizens, and up to 3,000 of its security forces, have
died in suicide and other attacks since Sept. 11, 2001, when Islamabad
became an ally of the U.S. in taking on Islamist extremists.

Many
of the attacks have targeted Pakistani security forces, but government
buildings, religious minorities and Western targets also have been hit.

Pakistan’s intelligence chief, Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha,
admitted “negligence” on the part of authorities in failing to find bin
Laden during a closed session in Parliament on Friday, a government
spokeswoman told reporters. Military officials, including the powerful
army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said they would improve the country’s air defenses, which did not detect the high-tech U.S. choppers used in the raid.

The
military leaders also assured lawmakers that Pakistan’s nuclear
arsenals are safe and that the armed forces were capable of defending
the country, said Firdous Ashiq Awan, the federal information minister.
In
another development Friday, Pakistani intelligence officials said a
U.S. missile strike killed three people near the Afghan border.

The
four missiles struck a vehicle in the Doga Madakhel village of North
Waziristan tribal region. North Waziristan is home to many militant
groups dedicated to attacking Western troops in Afghanistan.
The
two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to speak to media. They did not know the identities of
the dead.
___
Associated Press writers Ashraf Khan and Deb Riechmann in Islamabad, Babar Dogar in Lahore and Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan contributed to this report.

Categories: Terrorism, World News
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: