7 December 2009
LAHORE: At least 366 innocent Pakistanis have been killed and 901 injured in the first 11 months of year 2009 in seven bloody incidents of terrorism across Pakistan, targeting mosques with the help of suicide bombers as well as explosive-laden vehicles.
According to the figures compiled by the Pakistani ministry of interior, 52 people were killed on average per month in the seven gory incidents, most of which were claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). On average, 33 people were killed every month in the mosque-related acts of terrorism in the first 11 months of the year 2009. The weekly and daily average for those killed during the same period comes to eight and one persons respectively. The odious ploy of targeting jam-packed mosques at prayer time is now increasingly being used by the Tehrik-e-Taliban as this has become a lethal way to create horror. According to the available data, over 50 mosques have been targeted since 9/11 either by the Pakistani Taliban or their like-minded jehadi groups like the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HUJI), Jaish-e- Mohammad (JeM) and Jamaatul Furqaan.
The December 4, 2009 armed attack targeting the parade ground mosque in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, which killed 44 people including 17 children, was the latest in the series. In one of the worst incidents of terrorism in recent years, a group of six fidayeen attackers belonging to the Tehrik-e-Taliban stormed the crowded Parade Land Askari Mosque close to the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army during Friday prayers and sprayed gunfire at worshippers besides throwing hand grenades. A serving major general of the Pakistan Army, a brigadier, two lieutenant colonels, a major and a number of soldiers were among those killed in a multi-pronged attack which was carried out in cold blood while violating the sanctity of a mosque by those who claim to be fighting for the glory of Islam. The blood-spattered episode eventually came to an end after two suicide bombers blew themselves up.
Claiming responsibility for the Friday’s mosque attack, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said the Parade Lane mosque was similar to Masjid-e-Zarrar that was built in Madina by the munafiqeen, and was “demolished on the orders of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)”. Talking to BBC after the attack, TTP commander Waliur Rehman Mehsud said that his men had actually attacked senior army officers. “Our militants attacked the military officers who were our primary target and we will continue to attack the army,” he said, adding that the civilians killed in the attack were relatives of army personnel and their deaths “did not matter”. The fatal mosque attack comes just a day after the attempted bombing of the Naval Headquarters in Islamabad.
The December 4 attack on the Rawalpindi mosque was the seventh such assault this year, specifically targeting mosques. According to the figures compiled by the ministry of interior, the first such incident took place on February 5, 2009 when a suicide bomber blew himself at the main gate of Al Hussainia Mosque in Dera Ghazi Khan, killing 33 persons and injuring 54 others. The second incident took place on March 27, 2009 in which 92 persons, including 16 Security Force personnel, were killed and over 113 injured. The target of the suicide bomber was a mosque at Peshawar-Torkham Highway in the Jamrud sub-division of the Khyber Agency in FATA during the Friday congregation. The huge explosion reduced the single-storey roadside mosque to rubble. The dead included the prayer leader, his brother, four personnel of the Frontier Corps and a dozen Khassadars (tribal police).
The third such incident took place on June 5, 2009 when a suicide bomber killed 57 worshippers, including 12 children, at a mosque in a remote village of the Dir Upper District of NWFP. Dozens more were injured as a young man detonated explosives fastened to his body minutes before the Friday congregation in the Hayagay Sharqi village. In the fourth incident that took place in the same month a week later on June 12, 2009, 12 worshippers were killed and 105 others sustained injuries when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden van into a mosque during the Friday prayers in the Cantonment area of Nowshera in the NWFP. The congregation was in the second Rakat (part) of their prayer when the bomber in the vehicle, carrying 125 kilograms of explosives, struck the wall of the mosque near the Army Supply Depot. Two soldiers were among the four persons killed on the spot.
The fifth such incident took place on October 28, 2009 when a remote-controlled car bomb killed at least 117 people, including women and children, and injured around 203 others. The bombing completely destroyed Masjid Umme Habiba, a famous mosque of Peshawar, which was situated in the famous Meena bazaar. At least 150 kilograms of explosives were used in the remote-controlled blast. In the sixth incident on November 16, 2009, 11 persons were killed and 32 others sustained injuries in a suicide car bombing which targeted the Badaber Police Station and an adjacent mosque situated on the Kohat Road near Peshawar. The powerful blast razed to the ground the mosque as well as a large portion of the Police Station.