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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid