World

Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing three


By AFP
Published : 30 Nov 2022 08:16 PM | Updated : 30 Nov 2022 08:16 PM

Three people were killed and 23  injured Wednesday when a suicide bomber targeted a police truck in western  Pakistan, an attack claimed by the domestic chapter of the Taliban.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), separate from the Afghan Taliban but  sharing a common hardline Islamist ideology, earlier this week called off a  shaky months-long ceasefire agreed with Islamabad and ordered its fighters to  resume attacks across the nation.

Senior police official Azhar Mehesar told AFP that Wednesday's blast targeted  a security force preparing to escort polio vaccinators in the city of Quetta,  and those killed "include a policeman, a woman and a child".

In a statement, the TTP said a "holy warrior" detonated a car bomb near a  customs post to avenge the killing of founding member Umar Khalid Khurasani  during the truce.

"Our revenge operations will continue," the statement added. The TTP was founded in 2007 by Pakistani jihadists who fought alongside the 

Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1990s before opposing Islamabad's support for  the US-led intervention there after 9/11. For a time they held vast tracts of Pakistan's rugged tribal belt, imposing a  radical interpretation of Islamic law and patrolling territory just 140  kilometres (85 miles) from the Pakistan capital.

- School attack -

The Pakistani military came down hard after 2014 when TTP militants raided a  school for children of army personnel and killed nearly 150 people, most of  them pupils.

Its fighters were largely routed into neighbouring Afghanistan, but Islamabad  claims the Taliban in Kabul are now giving the TTP a foothold to stage  assaults across the border.

In the year since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, Pakistan has  seen a 50 percent surge in militant attacks, according to the Pak Institute  for Peace Studies (PIPS). 

Most of these attacks have been focused in the western provinces of Khyber  Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, which neighbour Afghanistan.

The 2014 school assault deeply shocked Pakistan, and since then the TTP have  vowed only to target state security forces.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only nations in the world where polio is  endemic.

There is resistance to vaccine campaigns in rural areas and among  conservative communities who falsely believe they are an effort to sterilise  them.

Polio vaccination teams are routinely escorted by police in the western  regions, and the TTP has regularly ambushed officers in remote restive areas.

Pakistan officials on Monday launched a week-long immunisation campaign  aiming to inoculate over 13 million children living in "high-risk districts".

 In April, Pakistan reported its first case of polio in 15 months. Since then  20 cases have been reported, according to the government-funded End Polio  Pakistan programme.