At least four members of Pakistan’s security forces died on Sunday in a suicide attack in Quetta, in the west of the country. Another twenty people were injured. Pakistan’s Taliban, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack. Since the Taliban’s triumph in neighboring Afghanistan, several analysts have warned of the risk of encouraging extremists on this side of the border.
A man aboard a motorcycle attacked agents of the Border Police, an auxiliary agency of the army, and fired the explosives he was carrying, according to information that the Quetta police provided to local media. The attack took place precisely at the time of the replacement of the agents in charge of the checkpoint, as explained by the Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, at a press conference.
The minister announced the deaths of three members of the corporation, but a fourth later died in hospital. In turn, the Quetta police detailed that two of the injured were pedestrians who were in the vicinity of the attack, and the others were border guards, several of whom were seriously injured, which could increase the death toll.
Prime Minister Imran Khan was quick to condemn the attack and suggest that those responsible are abroad. “My condolences to the families of the martyrs and I pray for the recovery of the wounded. Thanks to our security forces and their sacrifices to keep us safe, thwarting the plans of foreign-backed terrorists,” he tweeted in a small veiled reference to India, Pakistan’s archenemy.
Quetta is the capital of Balochistan, a Pakistani province bordering Afghanistan with a long history of separatist violence against the central government. But Sunday’s attack was attributed to the Islamic extremist group TTP, which proclaimed its loyalty to the Afghan Taliban shortly after they took power in Kabul.
Hence the concern in Pakistan over the news that the Afghan Taliban, with whom the government and the army sympathize, freed several TTP leaders when they opened the doors of several prisons in the course of their advance. The interior minister said late last month that the Afghan Taliban had assured the Pakistani government that they would not allow the TTP to use its soil to attack Pakistan.
Since its inception in 2007, the TTP, which brought together several smaller groups active in tribal areas, has been Pakistan’s most active and violent terrorist organization, not only against security forces but also against civilians. Its repression by the army was just as harsh, almost silencing it. But since last year, analysts have detected a progressive resurgence, which they largely attributed to the changing situation in Afghanistan. In 2020 alone, they carried out 120 attacks, and in July alone, there were 26.
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