Asia PacificTerrorism

Pakistan Taliban Claim Suicide Blast that Killed Officer in Capital

The Pakistan Taliban claimed a suicide attack that killed at least one police officer Friday in the country’s capital, the first such attack in the city for years.

Islamabad has largely been spared the low-level attacks carried out in Pakistan’s megacities of Lahore and Karachi, and also along the border areas near Afghanistan.

Senior police official Sohail Zafar Chattha said officers had been following a suspicious taxi occupied by a male driver and a woman passenger when he detonated a device inside the car.

“They were stopped and the long-haired man was asked to come out,” Chattha told AFP at the scene.

“He came out, but quickly went back inside and pressed a button that blew up the car.”

He said the fate of the passenger was not certain, but a policeman was confirmed dead and six people were wounded — including four officers.

Tehreek–e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) later claimed responsibility for the blast, saying the attack “on the enemies of Islam” was in retaliation for the recent killing of a senior member.

The group, which is separate from the Afghan Taliban but with a similar hardline Islamist ideology, called off a stop-start ceasefire with the government in November.

Haji Mohammad Saeed, 60, a retired government official living in the neighborhood where the attack happened, said authorities should end all negotiations with the TTP.

“They are taking advantage of this dialogue and causing violence.”

Pakistan was for a time plagued with almost daily bomb blasts across the country, but security vastly improved after a military crackdown that began in 2016.

Violence against security officials has risen in the northwestern border areas with Afghanistan over the past year — blamed on militant groups linked to the Pakistan Taliban.

Earlier this week, Pakistani defense minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif called for a fresh security operation against the TTP after suspected militants being held at a police station overpowered their captors and held them hostage for three days.

“Terrorism is on the rise again,” he said.

“There’s a spillover effect from the situation in Afghanistan and that’s affecting Pakistan, we have to launch this operation.”

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