News / Asia

Pakistani Taliban Attack Raises New Fears

Pakistani security officials examine a crater caused by overnight suicide bombing in the southern city of Sukkur. on July 25, 2013.
Pakistani security officials examine a crater caused by overnight suicide bombing in the southern city of Sukkur. on July 25, 2013.
Ayaz Gul
Taliban militants in Pakistan have claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s unprecedented suicide gun-and-bomb attack on a regional headquarters facility of the country’s main spy agency. Authorities say the raid and ensuing shootout left nine people, including five attackers, dead. The high-profile attack in an otherwise sleepy district has refueled criticism of Pakistan’s anti-terrorism campaign.
 
A day after the deadly attack in the Sukkur district in southern Sindh province, at least two commanders of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) contacted journalists to claim their fighters were behind the violence. 
 
Wednesday evening’s commando-style raid targeted a government complex housing offices of the Inter-Services-Intelligence or ISI, which is the country’s main spy agency and which directs Pakistan’s counter-terrorism campaign.
 
Officials say the attack began when a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into a secure wall of the facility while a second bomber detonated his explosives inside the compound and three others started firing at security guards.
 
The shootout lasted for more than an hour and left the three attackers dead. Authorities have confirmed the deaths of three ISI officers and one of their civilian colleagues in the attack. Some 40 people were reported wounded in the blasts and the ensuing gun-battle. 
 
Taliban extremists have in the past carried out similar raids against ISI facilities around the country but terror attacks in Sukkur are rare. The incident has reignited criticism of the new government headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for not devising a national security policy despite repeated promises to do so. 
 
Urgent need for reform

Former law minister Ahmer Bilal Sofi says the government urgently needs to reform the legal framework to enable security forces to effectively deal with the threat of militancy. He says the existing anti-terrorism legislation was introduced in 1997 to primarily discourage growing sectarian violence at the time but it is not helpful combating terror suspects linked to the Taliban and the al-Qaida network who are attacking the state of Pakistan.
 
“The conventional legal framework has broken down. If it was working, we would not be having these issues. The terrorism act, for example, was made in 1997 in a certain background. That background has changed. We have non-state actors who are challenging the writ [authority of the state]. These are transnational non-state actors. They move from one country to another. They incite [the] local population [against the Pakistani state].”
 
The former law minister says the Pakistani military has detained more than 700 suspected hardened Taliban militants in counter-militancy operations in areas near the Afghan border in recent years. He says these detainees pose a big challenge to Prime Minister Sharif’s government because of limitations in Pakistan's legal system have prevented authorities from putting them on trial out of fear they may be set free to fight again. Sofi says at the same time the prolonged detentions are also raising legal questions.   
 
“You cannot prosecute them in ordinary courts. Their sheer number demands you need to have at least 50 specialized judges of anti-terrorism courts if you want to go that route. You need to have 50 prosecutors, you need to have 50 investigating officers to build up these cases that will sustain the convictions. So, it is a very ambitious exercise and I think to me this appears to be one of the biggest challenges [for the government] because at the same time the patience of the [conventional] courts is running out.”
 
Pakistani Taliban and their al-Qaida supporters are believed to be using the country’s mountainous tribal regions on the Afghan border for terror activities inside the country. The bloody insurgency has killed thousands of Pakistanis in recent years. While the army has conducted major offensives against these extremists, suspected remotely-piloted U.S. drones have also launched frequent missile strikes against their hideouts.
 
TTP commanders told reporters Wednesday’s attack in southern Pakistan was launched to avenge the killing of their senior commander, Wali-ur Rehman, in a suspected U.S. drone strike in the Waziristan border district. The militant outfit promised to continue their attacks alleging the ISI is secretly helping in the U.S. drone operation. 
 
Pakistan denies those allegations and instead publicly criticizes Washington for launching the missile attacks on its territory, saying they violate the country’s sovereignty.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid