Despite efforts of the military in the ongoing operation Zarb-e-Asb to clear insurgents from North Waziristan, today’s suicide attack in Attock shows that Pakistan Tehreek- e- Taliban Jamaat -ul-Ahrar (TTP JA) are still a major force to be reckoned with in AfPak region. Taliban spokesperson, Ehsanullah Ehsan took to Twitter claiming responsibility for the incident.
DAWN media reported 17 dead including Punjab home minister Colonel (retd) Shuja Khanzada and 23 injured in the bombing at a political office in Shadi Khan village. An estimated 50 to 60 people were said to be in attendance at a jirga when the explosion hit, demolishing buildings and shattering windows. Khanzada and others were buried under rubble. DAWN stated, “Deputy Superintendent of Police Hazro Syed Shoukat Shah was among the dead recovered from the site. Ten other policemen who are yet to be rescued were present at the scene when the blast occurred.”
Shuja Khanzada (Image via GEO TV)
Today TTP JA spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan stated that they “accepted responsibility for attack on Shuja Khanzada who was killed in the attack and gave thanks for the co-operation of a brother Jihadi organization.” Khanzada led an anti-terror campaign in Punjab province see following link,
“Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada killed in terror attack”
Ehsan Ehsanullah tweeted,
We want to tell government of Pakistan And his army that you lose this battle of Ideologies
TTP JA are fighting for Sharia system to be fully implemented. Ehsan also said,
The ATTOCK attack is revenge for the martyrdom of Malik Ishaq shaheed and other mujahideen brothers.
Malik Ishaq killed in July (Image, News on Sunday)
Malik Ishaq was the leader of banned Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. He was killed in July 2015 along with his two sons Usman and Haq Nawaz and 11 alleged attackers during an “encounter” with police personnel. DAWN reported,
“Ishaq and his sons were arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Department a week ago. Following their recent arrest, the police had interrogated them and had subsequently taken them to Shahwala in Punjab’s Muzaffargarh district to aid the police in recovering weapons and explosives, sources in the CTD said.
The encounter appears to have taken place as militants attacked security forces and tried to free Ishaq who was killed in the ensuing exchange of fire, security sources say.”
Despite media reports of so called “peace talks” with Taliban representatives in Murree, TTP JA seem in no hurry to give up their guns. On 15th August 2015, Ehsanullah Ehsan announced that the group are with Afghan Ulema and agreed with their statement declaring jihad against Pakistan. Pakistan Taliban have long been in conflict with state entities accusing agencies and military of disappearing people, fake “encounters” and resorting to torture and extra-judicial killings of detainees in custody which most political parties choose to ignore. See following link also.
“Anti-Pakistan sentiments growing in Taliban ranks”
There were other claims of responsibility for Attock bombing alongside the claim from TTP JA, Reuters reported,
“a Taliban-affiliated militant group, Lashkar-e-Islam, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was retaliation for military operations against it.
‘Such types of attacks will continue in the future,’ its spokesman Saluddin Ayubi told Reuters.”
There will be a 3 day mourning period to remember those who lost their lives.
Condemnation of attack on Twitter
Condemning terrorist attk on Pb Home Min,
#COAS directed int agencies help find perpetrators.Such dastardly coward attempts cant dent our-1/2
national resolve 2 eliminate the menace.Khanzada Shaheed was bold Offr whose sacrifice 4 greater cause of cleansing Pak won’t go waste-2
Imran Khan PTI
Grieved to learn of Shuja Khanzada’s martyrdom. He was one of the founding mbrs of PTI & travelled with me in the early days galvanising ppl
Out of respect for shaheed Shuja Khanzada PTI will not put up a candidate for the bye election in his constituency.
JAAG TV tweeted,
CM KPK Pervez Khattak visits #AttockBlast site, demands operation against terrorists in Punjab
Govt of the Punjab
CM Shehbaz Sharif attended the funeral of Shaheed Shuja Khanzada and Shaheed DSP Shaukat Shah.
Air strike on militants
There were reports that 40 “terrorists” had been killed in an air strike on Shawal also on Sunday. Details could not be independently verified as journalists have great difficult in gaining access to the region due to restrictions. (See link below)
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.