A new dimension of suicide terrorism

6 04 2009

A new dimension of suicide terrorism

M Abdul Vasiq Eqbal

After the successful escape of the Liberty Square attackers it was being assumed that Lahore has to face another attack in the same way, but right in the nursery of protectors was unexpected. Around 900 trainees and staff personnel were there when the “Suicide Attack” was launched. This brazen attack has given totally new dimension to the phenomenon of suicide terrorism. High value targets are no more accessible through the single perpetrator as they cannot penetrate within the security establishments blocked by barriers and security checks. Ramming vehicles is also not a worthy solution to this as it can damage the building infrastructure and that’s it. Police Training School was a “gold mine” of security personnel which were not even completely trained. Assailants were clearly ordered to kill themselves before getting caught; and out of one dozen four blew themselves up. However, two of them have been apprehended and rest of them managed to runaway in the police uniforms. They were aware that their target is place of no-return, reinforcements would be called up and even if they would use hostages to get an escape way, they would be chased till their den, still they came and did what they were indoctrinated to do. But why Police Academy was targeted? Question to this answer is that academy was located at the outskirts of the city neighbouring Manawan viallage, an urban locality just few miles away from the border line of India. Police training school is located in a city which is strategically very important and historical as well, this was the mightiest reason for the perpetrators to encircle the police training school on the map. Other reasons could be “pre-gauged” inadequate security measures and densely populated area which could provide them hindrance or easy escape way. Despite the current security situation and given warnings of Corps Commander Lahore, nothing was done to preempt the attacks. We are well aware of the ill-equipdness, inadequate training and limited resources of the police. With this kind of infrastructure they cannot maintain the law and order in the country but can just exist. Condition of the attacked police school, especially the rear side of the building clearly demonstrated the capability of police to face such kind of incidents, through the media. There were some reports in the media that according to post-event accounts of some eye-witnesses, assailants had also taken control of the arms store inside and due to that, security guards at the main gate ran out of bullets and could not resist for long. Albeit the precious lives of the policemen had been lost and number of them wounded and traumatized, Eight hours long battle is too short which has resulted in the capturing of two perpetrators which is enough to tail the storming brain. But on the contrary it is too long if the time was consumed to take the help of other security agencies through the systematic rules of engagement. Coordination of all the four agencies was praised in the media, but unfortunately one thing was neglected. If calling up army was the ultimate solution then why rangers and elite groups were mobilized to the location?

Displacement of entire security structure could have provided another and open battlefield to the “unseen” hand. If rangers were their just to cordon off the area, then I think our police can do this at least. Elite members were waving their weapons on the rooftop of the building after capturing the lost castle, the way they were moving in and out around the area, their body language was depicting the level of their training and the way they were raised up from within the existing police structure. Regular police personnel were also there, on the same scene but their inability to retaliate quickly and wisely, on such kind of assaults were in their demeanor. Do we have any contingency plan to face such kind of situation? Pakistani security forces are being attacked since Pakistan started the operation against al-Qaeda and Taliban in FATA, Swat and Waziristan. Police, the first defence line of civilian and government infrastructure has suffered the most in the country and particularly in Lahore, suicide attack at Lahore high court, another attack in front of Allama Iqbal town police station and recently on the Sri Lankan cricket team were the examples to hit the civilian security agency. A unified contingency plan for all the security agencies should be defined regardless of their type and style of working, whether they are from civilian or military setup. A well-established line of communication and chain of command that who will assist who, when, where, how and through what? A worst case scenario should be constituted to manage such kind ofhappenings. We are still onboard and the ship of war against terrorism is facing storm of Taliban but we cannot rule out our other rivals. Enemy of my enemy is my friend, quote goes with the time we are living in. Pre-defined set of rules, applicable anywhere in the country will provide basic platform to minimize the response and rescue time. It would decrease the damage and increase the chances of success simultaneously. The sooner the formation, the greater the fruitfulness, “a stitch in time saves nine”.

The author can be reached at: vasiq.eqbal@gmail.com

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Pakistan: Two blasts in two days NDTV Correspondent Sunday, April 05, 2009, (Islamabad)

6 04 2009

Another day, another blast; this time a suicide bomber attacked a crowded Shia mosque in Chakwal in Pakistan’s Punjab province where a religious congregation was taking place. The damage was significant.

“The suicide bomber was trying to kill someone inside the mosque. Our security guards tried to stop him but the bomb exploded near the gate,” a resident said.

Twenty Shia worshippers were killed in the attack by a teenage suicide bomber.

“There was a lot of commotion. People were confused and there was panic all around,” another resident said.

The blast is the latest in a growing number of terror strikes in Pakistan’s interior and its major cities. On Saturday night, a suicide bomber killed eight people near Islamabad’s posh Jinnah market.

Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud claimed credit for a deadly attack on a police academy in Punjab’s capital Lahore last week that left 12 people dead. He has vowed to carry out more attacks unless the US stopped drone missile strikes against militants near the Afghan border.

The drone attacks have continued, and a Mehsud deputy warned last week that militants would soon strike in Islamabad.





Sri Lanka suicide blast kills 14, wounds minister

13 03 2009

Source: AP

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – A suicide bomber attacked government ministers leading a procession to mark a Muslim festival in southern Sri Lanka, killing 14 people and severely wounding one of the officials.The government blamed Tamil Tiger separatists for Tuesday’s blast, which wounded 45 other people, saying the rebels had grown desperate in the
face of an army offensive that has driven them close to defeat after more than 25 years of civil war.If the assault was carried out by the Tigers, it shows that the guerrillas can still launch strikes far from their traditional strongholds in the north and east even as they face battlefield defeat.
As the military has pushed the rebels into an ever-shrinking sliver of territory in the north, human rights and aid groups have voiced concern for the fate of the tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the pocket. Heavy artillery attacks Tuesday killed at least 49 ethnic Tamil civilians and wounded hundreds of others, the top government health official in the war zone said.While fighting rages in the north, the suicide attacker struck in the southern town of Akuressa as six ministers led a procession toward a mosque for a ceremony to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.Television footage showed men in white robes and caps slowly parading down the street before the blast sent them running in all directions. Afterward, charred bodies lay scattered among their torn clothes and severed limbs just outside the mosque compound’s gates.?I heard a huge sound, and then I saw people had fallen everywhere.

They were covered with blood and flesh, and the wounded people were screaming,? Ahamed Nafri, 29, said by telephone from the hospital in the nearby town of Matara.Police and bystanders hauled the badly bleeding Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Mahinda Wijesekara into a van. He was later flown to the capital for treatment to a head wound.Dr. Hector Weerasinghe, director of Colombo National Hospital, said the minister underwent three hours of surgery and was still in serious condition late Tuesday.The government said the attack killed 14 people and wounded 45 more.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s office said selecting a mosque on an Islamic festival for the attack showed the rebels ?hatred? of Muslims and strengthened the government’s resolve to defeat them.There was no indication Muslims were specifically targeted on Tuesday. However, the Tamil Tigers used violence to drive many Muslims and ethnic Sinhalese, who are mainly Buddhist, from areas dominated by Tamils, who are mostly Hindu.

In one of the bloodiest incidents, suspected rebels attacked a mosque in an eastern town in 1990 with guns, grenades and machetes, killing 140 worshippers.Muslims, many of them descendants of Arab or Indian traders, make up about 7 percent of Sri Lanka’s population. Many speak Tamil but the community has largely stayed out of the war.With most communication to the north severed, rebel spokesmen could not be reached for comment.

The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 for an independent state for the Tamil minority, which suffered decades of marginalization at the hands of governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed.





Human bombs versus conventional offensives

19 10 2008

Source: India Today

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The LTTE were not the originators of the cult of suicide terrorism. That dubious distinction goes to the Hezbollah, whose 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut killed 241 US servicemen.

The LTTE copycatted the Hezbollah when Vallipuram Vasanthan aka ‘Captain Miller’ drove a truckload of explosives into a Sri Lankan army camp killing 39 soldiers. Over the years, they honed suicide terrorism into a lethal art, striking at heavily guarded targets –VIPs or groups of security personnel. They assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and President Premadasa two years later. Suicide bombers strike at heavily guarded or fortified targets, individuals or installations, which are hard to reach by conventional means.

But, of late, the LTTE, which has resumed its suicide bombing campaign since its five year ceasefire with the Sri Lankan government collapsed two years ago, has been completely overshadowed by the attacks carried out in Pakistan against the Pakistan military and police and VIP targets like Benazir Bhutto, but with scant regard for civilian collateral.

Pakistan is now emerging as the suicide bombing capital of the world. In the first eight months of the year, says the Institute of Conflict Management, 28 suicide bombings within Pakistan have killed more than 471 people. By comparison, Iraq saw 42 such attacks and 463 deaths; Afghanistan witnessed 36 incidents and 436 casualties.

These attacks don’t include last week’s suicide assault on Pakistan’s anti-terrorist headquarters that wounded six, or the truck bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad which killed over 55 people, including the Czech envoy.

In sharp contrast, the notorious Black Tigers and their marine counterparts, the Black Sea Tigers have struck 29 times on land, sea and under the water – a suicide diver attacked and sank a Lankan naval vessel inside Trincomalee harbour in May last year killing over 300 persons.

Yet, mindless as they may seem, these attacks separated by thousands of kilometres have a common underlying message. Both the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the LTTE are under siege. The Pakistani Taliban is reeling from multiple assaults from government ground forces, helicopter gunships and artillery in the North-West Frontier Province. The Sri Lankan army is advancing within sight of the Tiger capital of Kilinochchi. Both these guerrilla armies have begun using bombings as a cost effective way of launching the fight into the government’s rear and thereby force a stalemate. Regrettably, they don’t seem to be short of either recruits or material to carry them out.