Posts Tagged ‘Lashkar-e-Jhanvi’

By Zia Ur Rehman

KARACHI – Lethal attacks by Taliban militants hit 54 Pakistani places of worship of various faiths in the past 10 years, killing 1,165 worshippers and injuring about 2,900, a recent report revealed.

The defiled holy places included mosques, churches, Sufi shrines, Shia processions and Imam Barghas, Ahmadi worship centres and missionary schools, a report compiled by Muhammad Nafees, a Karachi-based independent security analyst and researcher, shows.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and affiliated banned sectarian organisations like Jaish-e-Muhammad and Jundullah claimed responsibility in almost all cases. Most of the victims were women and children. Holy books of various faiths were burnt in many attacks.


The most recent bombing occurred January 25 at a police check post in Lahore, killing 13 people and injuring 70 others. The suicide bomber may have been trying to hit either the shrine of Sufi Data Darbar or a Muharram procession, as the explosion occurred between the two, media reported.

Toll compiled to showcase Taliban atrocities

The rationale behind compiling the death toll is to illustrate the atrocities of the Taliban, which the Pakistani mainstream media generally ignore, Nafees told Central Asia Online.

“The terrifying data on attacking holy places illustrate the breadth and depth of violent puritan blasphemies committed by Taliban militants,” he said.

“The al-Qaeda-linked Taliban have ruthlessly attacked mosques and other holy places in the country in an effort not only to kill their opponents but also to target minorities,” William Sadiq, a human rights activist in Karachi, told Central Asia Online.

Militants are lashing out against military defeats and public rejection, he said.

Al-Qaeda-linked militants similarly have bombed holy places in Iraq too, killing thousands of Shia Muslims, he added.


The Taliban are demonstrating their disregard for human life and for the sanctity of places of worship in Pakistan, Sadiq said, adding they want to splinter Pakistan by fuelling sectarian hatred.

Mosques bear brunt of attack

The Taliban attacked 17 mosques in the past 10 years, killed 457 worshippers and injured 808. One of the most brazen attacks occurred March 27, 2009, when a suicide bomber stormed a mosque at Peshawar-Torkham Highway in Jamrud, Khyber Agency. The attack killed 83 people, including 16 security personnel, and injured more than 100.

Another deadly suicide bombing killed at least 72 and injured more than 100 at the Wali Muhammad Mosque in Dara Adamkhel, 35km south of Peshawar, November 5, 2010.

“Islam is the religion of love, peace and harmony. True Muslims don’t attack such holy places, and those miscreants who did this are not Muslims,” said Sahibzada Fazal Karim, a religious leader and head of Markazi Jamiat-e-Ulema Pakistan.

“This is the time that all the political parties including religious groups should join hands against the terrorist activities of Taliban; otherwise, the acts will continue,” Karim told Central Asia Online. “God will never forgive them for these atrocities.”

Sufi shrines, other religious places attacked, too

In the past 10 years, terrorists attacked seven Sufi shrines, which arouse the ire of militants who take a hard-line interpretation of Islam, killing 130 people.

The deadliest attack was March 19, 2005, when a suicide bomber killed 36 at the shrine of Pir Rakhel Shah in Jhal Magsi, Balochistan.

Shia Imam Barghas and Muharram processions were also key targets. Militants attacked 16 Imam Barghas in the past 10 years, killing 260 worshippers and injuring more than 900. Similarly they targeted five Muharram processions, killing 160.

The most lethal attack on Shia Muslims occurred September 3 in Quetta, when a suicide bombing killed 73. Militants also attacked other minorities – the Ahmadis and Christians. In the past 10 years, they killed 104 Ahmadi and 24 Christian worshippers. Two simultaneous suicide attacks on Ahmadi mosques in Lahore May 28 killed 95 worshippers.

“Even when the TPP admitted their involvement in such cases, the media (would say) that until an investigation is complete, we can’t say for sure who committed this crime,” Nafees said, adding that religious and political parties that fall to condemn the Taliban’s atrocities either feared them or were working hand-in-glove with them.

“Over the years, Pakistan has seen a radical ideology attacking holy places,” said Prof. Zakaullah Sheikh, a teacher of Islamic studies at a governmental college in Hyderabad.

Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic scriptures holds that all symbols (holy places) of opposing ideologies represent shrik (infidelity). Through desecrating these holy places, the Taliban want to ultimately bring about a shift in the interpretation of religious authority, Sheikh said.



By Zia Ur Rehman and Javed Mahmood

KARACHI – Four officers of the Sindh Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) who shattered the network of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other banned organisations in Karachi, were key targets of the November 11 bombing of the CID building but escaped injury, Central Asia Online has learned.

”]The deadly attack began as an armed assualt and ended with a truck bomb that killed at least 20 people and wounded about 100 others, including women and children. The police reportedly used the building to detain and interrogate suspects accused of belonging to TTP and other banned organisations.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Chaudry Aslam Khan, SSP Fayyaz Khan, SSP Omar Shahid and SP Mazhar Mashwani were the main targets, a CID official told the Central Asia Online.

That four-man team oversees the anti-extremism cell and runs counter-terrorism operations in the city. It arrested hundreds of key leaders of the TTP, Lashkar-e-Janghvi (LeJ) and other banned jihadi organisations in a massive crackdown in Karachi, the official added.

“At the time of attack, luckily the four officers were not present at the building,” said the official.

First four attackers’ fates unknown

The four terrorists who entered the building before the blast might be dead, police officials said November 12.

“Four attackers penetrated the CID building by jumping over the wall a few minutes before the blast, and they exchanged bullets with the police,” Iftikhar Tarar, deputy inspector general of investigation in the CID of Karachi, told Central Asia Online.

“We believe that all the four attackers have also lost their lives in the bomb blast,” he said. “It would be premature to say anything about the attackers who remained outside the building.”

So far authorities know of nine policemen among the dead, he said.

He said the death toll could rise if rescue workers recover more bodies under the debris.

The initial investigation showed that ten attackers hit the building, Sindh inspector general of police Salahuddin Babar Khattak said. Investigators are tracing the culprits’ identities, he added.

Counter-terror team had solid resume

The four-man CID counter-terrorist team had arrested six LeJ activists November 10. It linked the suspects to Asif Ramzi’s faction, which allegedly was involved in deadly attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas. The arrested suspects allegedly were planning sectarian killings in the city during the Islamic holy month of Muharram.

On the same day, Aslam Khan arrested Iqbal Bajauri, a militant leader from Bajaur Agency and a close aide of Maulana Faqir Muhammad, TTP’s central leader, from Minghophir.

In 2002, militants sent parcel bombs to some senior police officers, including then-Karachi police chief Tariq Jamil and Fayyaz Khan.

Fayyaz Khan was critically injured. Some credit him with arresting more than 100 high-profile terrorist suspects linked to the TTP and LeJ this year.

The CID has largely broken the TTP’s network in the city by arresting several consecutive amirs (heads) appointed for Karachi, including Akhter Zaman Mehsud and his successors, Bahadur Khan Momand (alias Sadiq) and Maulvi Saeed Anwer, a CID official said. The official said Aslam Khan and his team snatched them all.

The TTP swiftly took responsibility for the blast, saying it was meant to avenge “the arrest” of its comrades. However, Interior Minister Rehman Malik November 12 disputed that claim, saying the LeJ committed the bombing.

“By attacking the CID building, they want to give us a message that they are still alive and could strike back,” Shahid told Central Asia Online, adding that the CID will continue its anti-militant crackdown.

The militants raise funds through extortion, armed robberies and kidnappings and send the money to tribal areas where the TTP-linked militants plan terrorist acts, Shahid said. Dozens of arrests by the CID have disrupted militant fund-raising in the city, he added.

Some police sources theorise that the militants were trying to free Bajauri. However, he was not in the building.

CID attack harms civilians

Civilian casualties in the neighbourhood were numerous. A dozen houses in the nearby Civil Lines residential neighbourhood sustained damage, Moqeem Alam, a local MPA, told Central Asia Online. Most of the civilians injured were women and children, he said. Authorities have suspended gas, electricity and water service because of damage to pipelines.

Police, military and paramilitary contingents have closed off public access to the area. Authorities are searching the neighbourhood for any attackers who escaped.

“We were watching the news on TV when the firing started, then suddenly lights went out, and we heard a massive blast,” said Zarshad, a local resident who is hospitalised after a concrete slab hit him.

Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, accompanied by provincial Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, visited the blast site to review the rescue and relief work. Shah gave assurances of the government’s all-out support for the victims and said the government would keep fighting terrorism.