Pakistani Taliban suicide
bombers killed at least 80 people at a paramilitary force academy in the
northwest Friday, and vowed further bloodshed in retaliation for the death of
Osama bin Laden in a U.S.
raid in the country.
The first major bombing in
Pakistan since Bin Laden’s death on May 2, it will reinforce the common view
that his elimination will not ease violence because al-Qaeda is not centralised
and will keep inspiring groups, like the Pakistani Taliban, which are scattered
globally and loosely bound by ideology.
"It’s the first
revenge for the martyrdom of ... Bin Laden. There will be more," Taliban
spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said by telephone from an undisclosed location.
The bomber struck soon
after dawn as the recruits were on their way out of the gates of the Frontier
Constabulary academy in the town of Charsadda
"It was a suicide
bombing," said Nisar Sarwat, police chief of Charsadda, a market town
surrounded by wheat fields 135 km (85 miles) from the capital Islamabad.
One of the suicide bombers
was on a motorcycle and police were investigating reports that the other
attacker was too, he said.
Of the dead, 65 were
recruits. Sixty people were wounded.
In the last major attack in
an unstable South Asian country with a stagnant economy, two Taliban suicide
bombers killed at least 41 people at a Sufi shrine on April 3 in a central
A new push by militants is
the last thing Pakistan
The U.S. special forces operation to kill Bin Laden
embarrassed the Pakistani government and military, who are under pressure to
explain how the al-Qaeda chief lived undetected in the garrison town of Abbottabad, about a two hour drive from intelligence
headquarters in Islamabad.
The United States, which has questioned Pakistan’s reliability as a partner in the
American war on militancy, provides billions of dollars of aid to Islamabad.
Security force camps, posts
and training grounds have been attacked repeatedly in Pakistan over
recent years and many civilians have died.
The scene outside the
academy was familiar -- pools of blood mixed with soldiers caps and shoes. The
wounded, looking dazed with parts of their clothes ripped by shrapnel, were
loaded into trucks.
Body parts of the suicide
bomber served as a reminder of the steady supply of Pakistanis willing to blow
themselves up, inspired by al-Qaeda’s calls for holy war.
"As we were sitting in
the buses there was a small blast. Within moments there was a second, big
blast. I fell on the road and became unconscious," said soldier
Shafeeq-ur-Rehman, whose leg was wounded in the blast.
As he spoke from a bed at
Lady Reading hospital in the city of Peshawar,
tearful people brought in dead and wounded relatives to the facility that has
treated thousands of victims of the struggle between the army and militant
"Why are we being
killed? Whose war is this? What is our sin,"" asked an elderly man
with a grey beard as the body of his teenage son was carried in on a stretcher.
The Pakistani Taliban
launched their insurgency in 2007 after a military raid on Islamabad’s Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, where
militant leaders and others were holed up.
A series of army offensives
against their bases in the lawless Pashtun tribal belt on the
Pakistan-Afghanistan border have failed to break their resolve. They just move
from one mountain area to another when the heat is on.
The killing of Bin Laden in
Pakistan is thought unlikely
to weaken the Pakistan Taliban, while the United States has stepped up drone
attacks on militants since Bin Laden’s death.
One of Bin Laden’s widows
told investigators he lived in Pakistan
for more than seven years, security officials said.