Friday, 1 February 2013
From The New York Times:
Attack on Mosque in Pakistan Kills at Least 21
February 1, 2013
By ISMAIL KHAN and SALMAN MASOOD
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — An explosion in a market in northwestern Pakistan on Friday killed at least 21 people and wounded 33 in what police described as a suicide bombing.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack about 70 miles west of Peshawar in Hangu, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Abu Omar, a Taliban commander in the tribal region of North Waziristan, said in a telephone interview that the attack was in revenge for the killing on Thursday of a Sunni cleric.
The cleric, Mufti Abdul Majeed Deenpuri, 60, was shot in the southern port city of Karachi, setting off fears of reprisals against Shiites.
Mr. Deenpuri was one a senior teacher at Jamia Binoria, one of the largest seminaries in Pakistan. A gunman opened fire on the vehicle carrying the cleric and a colleague at a busy intersection and then escaped.
While the security situation is precarious across Pakistan, Rehman Malik, the interior minister, had warned of the potential for an attack in Karachi. Cellphone services were suspended in the sprawling, violence-prone port city from noon to 3 p.m., during Friday prayers.
Hangu has seen sectarian violence in the past, often forcing the authorities to impose a curfew. The town borders the Orakzai tribal region, where the army and paramilitary forces are fighting Taliban militants.
Friday’s explosion occurred just after the weekly prayers as worshipers filed out of a Sunni mosque and a nearby Shiite place of worship, police officials said. "People were coming out of the mosque when the explosion occurred, said one officer in Hangu, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Another police official in Hangu said that a suicide bomber detonated his explosives. While Shiites were the likely target, the dead included people from both sects, he said. "There are Sunnis and Shias killed.”
On Thursday, Human Rights Watch released its World Report 2013 (http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013), which sharply criticized the Pakistani government and its military and intelligence agencies for failing to reduce human rights abuses.“Pakistan’s human rights crisis worsened markedly in 2012 with religious minorities bearing the brunt of killings and repression,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, the director in Pakistan for Human Rights Watch. “While the military continued to perpetrate abuses with impunity in Baluchistan and beyond, Sunni extremists killed hundreds of Shia Muslims and the Taliban attacked schools, students, and teachers.”
Posted on 02/01/2013 7:51 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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