Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Peshawar, Bannu blasts

Unfortunate were the incidents on Saturday in which suicide car bombers struck separately in Bannu and Peshawar killing collectively 21 persons and injuring more than 200 persons, most of them critically. The injured were rushed to District Headquarters Hospital, Bannu while in Peshawar to Combined Military Hospital, Fauji Foundation Hospital and the Lady Reading Hospital. In Bannu, the suicide bomber rammed at 7-20am a pick-up van loaded with explosives into the building of Mandan police station located some eight kilometres to the south of the city. At the time of the explosion, about 150 to 200 persons, including the jawans of Frontier Constabulary, were present in the police station. Minutes after the Bannu blast, Qari Hussain, said to be the mastermind of suicide bombings belonging to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, phoned up BBC’s Peshawar office to accept the responsibility for blowing up the police station. He also threatened to soon conduct similar attacks in other cities. Intelligence agencies were still busy focusing on the implications of the TTP threat when a powerful car bomb blast shortly before midday – five hours after the Bannu incident – rocked the busiest part of the shopping district in Peshawar Cantonment. AIG bomb disposal squad Shafqat Khan told media persons that the bomber lobbed a hand grenade on to the road to scare away the crowd in order to take his vehicle, loaded with 100 kgs of explosives, near a seven-storey building opposite the Greens Wedding Hall where several banks have their branches. Eyewitnesses told camera teams that the branch managers had been receiving threatening letters against the presence of women as employees or as customers. The blast destroyed at least 20 cars, some of them brand new parked for sale by the dealers in the neighbouring showroom. Senior minister visited the place and promised to pay Rs300,000 to the affected families per every killed person and Rs100,000 for every injured citizen. Similarly, talking to newsmen the Minister of Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain described the cowardly attack as part of the ongoing war between the forces of good and evil. He said that militants and suicide bombers did not deserve any sympathy from anyone in the world. The entire humanity hated them and resented their misdeeds.
Newly-appointed chief of the Capital City Police DIG Liaquat Ali was not prepared to accept that the devastating blast in the heart of NWFP’s biggest cantonment was the result of a security lapse. When media persons insisted on this being a security lapse, police tried to cover up its inefficiency by hurriedly taking into custody a couple of individuals wearing long flowing Arabic robes. The trained saboteurs would obviously not be naïve enough to loiter about the site of the blast in full public view where members of half a dozen of law enforcing agencies were examining the scene of the explosion with hands on the leash of supposedly sniffer dogs. It is indeed amazing how the suicide bomber managed to take his vehicle almost to the boundary wall of the well-guarded and high security CMH. Every road and lane in the cantonment has prominent signboards that warn the pedestrians and the motorists alike to beware as secret cameras are monitoring their movements. On entry points, police notes down the registration numbers of the cars that enter the Saddar proper and issue a chit to the drivers who return it to the staff on duty on the exit point. Similarly, jawans of army and military police guarding the main cantonment roads do not allow any taxi-cab driver to ply his vehicle unless he has a special sticker issued by the Army House pasted on to his windscreen. Whatever the cause of the blasts in Bannu and Peshawar, the killers of innocent lives should not go scot free.

Beijing ready for National Day celebration

Clean streets replete with national flags, major road intersections adorned with ornate potted plants, Beijing is in gala attire early Thursday for the massive celebration commemorating the 60th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China.The event will showcase how the country explores the road of building socialism with Chinese characteristic in the past decades, and what great achievements it has attained.Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather on Tian'anmen Square and along Chang'an Avenue in central Beijing for hours to experience the grandiose celebration that will boost their national pride.Many people may have an early rise Thursday morning to get prepared to watch the much-anticipated military and civilian parade either alongside the parade route or on TV.

3 Missile Strikes Hit Northwest Pakistan

Pakistani officials say three suspected U.S. missile strikes have hit the country's Waziristan tribal regions since late Tuesday, reportedly killing at least 18 militants. But such attacks may in fact hurt public perception ahead of an anticipated Pakistani military offensive in the area.

The latest missile strike occurred Wednesday in the North Waziristan tribal region.

It was the third strike in 24 hours allegedly by unmanned U.S. planes that targeted suspected Taliban and al-Qaida militants along the Afghan border.

A similar strike late Tuesday hit an alleged Taliban compound in North Waziristan.

Analysts believe this area is a stronghold for Afghan Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, who is blamed for attacks in Afghanistan against the Afghan government and foreign troops.

Hours earlier, another suspected U.S. drone fired two missiles that reportedly struck a Pakistani Taliban commander's house in South Waziristan.

Also Wednesday, the British Broadcasting Corporation's Urdu-language service received video allegedly showing the body of former Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. The video showed minor injuries to the right side of his face and his body was covered with a white sheet.

Officials believe Mehsud died in an earlier U.S. missile strike.

U.S. and international intelligence officials say such strikes have helped to significantly reduce the al-Qaida network's effectiveness.

But the former security chief of Pakistan's tribal regions, Mahmood Shah, tells VOA that these strikes ultimately hurt Pakistan.

"[The] elimination of certain individuals, yes it is to the advantage of Pakistan. But destabilization, it is injurious to Pakistan," he said.

Analysts believe the Pakistani military is on the verge of launching a major campaign in South Waziristan, following the success of its operation in and around Swat Valley.

Shah says the United States appeared to have no involvement in the Swat offensive. He says he believes that played a key role in the Pakistani military's success.

"If it had some sort of assistance from the U.S., I think the support from the people of Pakistan would not have been there. So I think it was hugely successful because it was through an indigenous plan, and that it was without U.S. support," he said.

While most of the focus has been on militancy in Pakistan's northwest, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, reportedly said U.S. forces are turning their gaze on the country's southwestern province of Baluchistan. U.S. officials say they believe fugitive Taliban leader Mohammad Omar is based around the province's capital of Quetta.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Patterson expressed concern about Omar and his council of lieutenants, who reportedly plan and launch cross-border strikes from their Pakistani safe havens.

But days earlier, senior Pakistani military officials spoke in Quetta, denying that Omar or his commanders where operating in the area.

Peshawar police declares 10-bazaars sensitive

PESHAWAR: After Monday’s car Bomb explosion at CMH road in Provincial Capital Peshawar Law Enforcement Agencies has declared Ten-Bazaars of the city sensitive owing to security concerns.

While City Administration has also decided to launch an operation clean-up to eliminate encroachments and illegal car parking slots from the declared sensitive bazaars of the city and the law enforcement agencies has also submitted their security reports to the Provincial Government.

It was pertinent to mention that after the ongoing successful operation of security forces against militants two bomb-blasts were carried out by the terrorists in Peshawar and Bannu as retaliation of the military action and to avert any further terrorist bid Law Enforcement Agencies has formulated a new security plan.

Peshawar Police has also tightened security of provincial Ministers, officials and directed VVIPs to inform Police before any sort of movement in the city.

Police has also eliminated illegal car parking and encroachments in Qissa-Khawani Bazar, Ramdas, University road, Karkhano Market, Dubgari garden and in the premises of police stations of the provincial capital.