The bomb was far from the biggest seen on the North-West Frontier but it did its job well. Placed in a water cooler, it ripped through the Nishtar Abad music market, sending shards of glass and splintered CDs in all directions. ‘Miraculously, no one was killed,’ said Mohammed Azam, who was shopping for presents for the Muslim holiday of Eid this weekend. Twenty people were injured, three seriously, and a dozen shops gutted.
For the police chief of Peshawar, the dusty Pakistan city 40 miles from the Afghan border, it was clear who planted last Tuesday’s bomb. ‘We suspect the involvement of those people who in recent months had sent letters to the CD and video shops, warning them to shut their businesses, saying it is against Islam,’ Abdul Majid Marwat said.
The ‘Pakistan Taliban’ – or one of the various groups claiming the name – had struck again. Within hours the debris was being cleared away and the blood wiped off the walls. ‘This is the life we lead,’ said Azam.’ We have no choice but to continue.’
The Pakistan Taliban’s campaigns go way beyond bombing music shops. Fifty miles south of Peshawar last week, a full-scale pitched battle, complete with air strikes and artillery barrages, raged between the Pakistani army and local and international militants dug into fortified positions in remote tribal villages. By the time a fragile calm had settled on the rocky hills, scattered palm trees and desiccated fields of Mir Ali, 50 soldiers, a 100 or so militants and around 100 civilians had died. Given the inaccessibility of the battlefield and the conflicting claims of the military and their opponents, accurate casualty figures are simply not available.
What is not in doubt is the scale of the fighting. It was a bloody week for everyone as half a dozen ragged conflicts raged across a stretch of land the size of Britain, from the Indus river to the central highlands of Pakistan. [complete article]
As Al Qaeda regains strength in the badlands of the Pakistani-Afghan border, an increasing number of militants from mainland Europe are traveling to Pakistan to train and to plot attacks on the West, European and U.S. anti-terrorism officials say.
The emerging route, illuminated by alleged bomb plots dismantled in Germany and Denmark last month, represents a new and dangerous reconfiguration. In recent years, the global flow of Muslim fighters had shifted to the battlefields of Iraq after the loss of Al Qaeda’s Afghan sanctuary in late 2001. [complete article]
See also, Taliban use hostage cash to fund UK blitz (The Telegraph).