A suicide bomber atttack at a mosque in the frontier town of Jamrud, Pakistan has destroyed the building and killed dozens of people during Friday prayers:
A suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque packed with hundreds of
worshippers for Friday prayers in northwestern Pakistan, killing at
least 48 people and injuring scores more, officials said.
The blast badly damaged the mosque in Jamrud, a town near the Afghan border in an area beset by Taliban
attacks as well as vicious feuds between rival tribes and militant
groups. Authorities did not immediately speculate on a motive.
violence in Pakistan’s northwest is fueling doubts about the country’s
ability to counter Taliban and al-Qaida militants also blamed for
attacks in neighboring Afghanistan.
Television footage showed
scores residents and police officers digging frantically through the
ruins of the white-walled mosque, whose roof appeared to have caved in.
The bomber struck when about 250 people were attending Friday prayers, said Tariq Hayat, the top administrator in the area.
said rescuers had pulled 48 bodies from the rubble and predicted the
toll would likely rise further. Another 80 people were injured, he said.
As the NYT notes, Jamrud is in the Khyber semi-autonomous tribal region of Pakistan, home of the famed Khyber Pass between Pakistan and Afghanistan and thus the primary land route to supply US and NATO troops in Afghanistan for goods arriving at the port in Karachi. in other words, an irresistible target for militants of all stripes. The region also has its share of other horrific atrocities like child slavery. All of this is further evidence ot the fact that the Afghanistan war is not a hermetically sealed one, and that any progress there can be easily undermined by the situation in Pakistan. Any long term solution will have to include Pakistan as well.
I am sympathetic to Pakistan’s need for sovereign authority but in regions like Khyber, or in Swat, the authority of the central government is basically meaningless anyway. As a result, the US can and must play an active role.
As an aside, the strategic bottleneck of the Khyber Pass – which draws and exacerbates militant resistance – is one that the military would prefer to avoid reliance on. Alternate routes for land supply into Afghanistan are few, however – though one possibility would be via Iran, justifying rapprochement.