After the carnage at Lahore, terrorists struck in Peshawar killing a child and injuring nine people on Thursday
On a day of unending terror in Pakistan, a synchronised triple-attack in Lahore by armed militants turned the city into a battleground for over five hours on Thursday and underlined that extremists are determined to take the war to the country’s Punjabi heartland, while two separate bomb attacks in the North-West Frontier Province added to the nation’s sense of devastation.
In all, 39 people, including security personnel, militants and civilians, were killed and scores injured in the multiple attacks that came days after a weekend assault on the Pakistan Army General Headquarters and a suicide bombing near Swat earlier this week.
The attacks showed that despite the recent setback from the military operations against them in Swat and the August killing of their leader Beithullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, the Taliban militants remain able to plan and organise ambitious attacks against the state, using surprising new tactics.
The Lahore attacks were also a sign, as was the attack on the GHQ, that tribal Taliban has joined hands with sectarian and traditionally anti-India militant groups based in Punjab to strike deep in Pakistan’s most dominant and prosperous province.
According to the GEO TV website, the Tehreek-e-Taliban (Amjad Farooqi faction), which claimed the attack on the GHQ, also claimed to have carried out the Lahore attacks.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Dawn News TV that “it seems now there is a triangular syndicate between the Al Qaeda, the Taliban and some proscribed group operatives in Punjab.”
He told journalists earlier that the attacks were a response by “desperate” Taliban militants to the successful operation against them in Swat.
But some sections in the Punjab provincial government pointed the finger across the border. Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who has blamed India for earlier attacks in Lahore, said he would not rule out a “foreign hand” in the latest attacks, and the Punjab government had suggested an investigation of this “angle” to the federal government.
Lahore Commissioner Khusro Pervaiz declared he had “absolutely no hesitation” in saying that there was “plenty of evidence” to show Thursday’s Lahore attacks were the work of India’s intelligence agencies.
But Mr. Malik urged restraint, and said it was his “request not to name involvement of anyone without investigation” or proof.
The grisly day began with a suicide vehicle-bombing in Kohat in the North-West Frontier Province. The bomber drove the explosives-packed van into a police station in the Kohat cantonment area, killing at least 10 people.
Three policemen and children were among the dead. The Lahore attacks followed minutes after, at 9.30 a.m. According to officials, they were carried out by apparently well-trained fidayeen-style gunmen, in their late teens or early 20s, some of whom were also suicide bombers.
The security forces were in control by early afternoon but fierce battles left 27 people dead.