A fresh wave of bombings in Pakistan on Friday, including one outside a military complex, killed at least 23 people, including many children, underlining that Taliban militants are increasingly hitting at both civilian as well as security targets in their war against the state.
As the country’s security situation deteriorated, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani chaired a high-level meeting that was also attended by Cabinet Ministers, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI chief Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, Chief Ministers and senior officials of all four provinces.
Eight persons were killed when a suicide-bomber blew himself up around 7.30 a.m. at a checkpost near the Air Force-run Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra, 40 km west of the capital.
Two Air Force personnel were among the killed. The others were civilian passers-by. The complex houses four factories that manufacture, refit and service Air Force and other military planes, including the F-6 and the Mirage.
According to Associated Press, some foreign military experts say Pakistan keeps planes that can carry nuclear warheads at Kamra, but the military denies the base is linked to the nuclear weapons programme.
The Taliban have mainly picked on military targets in their war against Pakistan. After the attack on the Army headquarters in Rawalpindi and especially since the Army launched a ground offensive in South Waziristan, security forces have been on maximum alert to prevent such attacks, but it has not helped.
Friday’s suicide attack came after gunmen, suspected to be militants, killed a brigadier and a soldier in the capital on Thursday.
In another incident, a minibus transporting wedding guests in the Mohamand tribal agency hit an anti-tank mine. At least 15 people, including children, were killed in the explosion that destroyed the bus. The military is engaged in battling Taliban militants in this tribal region since last year.
Civilians were also targeted earlier in the day when a car-bomb, possibly detonated by a remote device, went off at a restaurant-wedding hall in the upscale Hayatabad area of Peshawar.
At least 15 people were injured in the bombing that destroyed much of the restaurant.
The attacks are seen as retaliation for the military operation in South Waziristan, in which, the military said, 13 militants and two soldiers were killed since Thursday. But there are no independent accounts of how the advance is progressing as journalists are not allowed to travel in the region.