Pakistan: Islamist militants blamed for deadly suicide attack

Islamabad, 2 Dec. (AKI) - By Syed Saleem Shahzad - Islamist militants from the group known as 'Ghazi force' are believed to be the prime suspects in a suicide attack on Pakistan's naval headquarters in Islamabad on Wednesday. At least one navy security officer was killed and at least three others were injured when the suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of the naval compound.

According to eyewitnesses, the suicide attacker was aged between 17 and 19. He blew himself up when naval guards stopped him at the entrance of the headquarters and the blast shattered the windowpanes of nearby buildings and vehicles.

Senior officials of the Pakistani Special Investigation Group (SIG), a highly trained anti-terrorism branch of the Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency, immediately rushed to the scene of the attack.

After their initial investigation officials blamed the Ghazi force for the attack.

The Ghazi force is a militant group named after Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, a deputy leader of Islamabad’s Red Mosque, who was among at least 100 people killed in a military operation there in July 2007.

The Ghazi Force is comprised of about 130 students from the Red Mosque religious school. They are understood to have previously carried out several high profile attacks against security forces in Islamabad.

The Ghazi force is believed to be responsible because tight security on the main highways is preventing tribal militants from travelling to Islamabad from the volatile North West Frontier Province or from the southern Punjab.

However, the former students of the Red Mosque Islamic school Jamia Faridia are still based in villages near Islamabad and the city of Rawalpindi and can reach their targets comparatively easily.

Nonetheless, the militants knew that an attack on the naval headquarters would have a limited impact.

This is consistent with the militants' psychological war on the Pakistani security apparatus and militants' demand for peace negotiations in South Waziristan near the Afghan border.

In November Pakistani police arrested Jamshed alias Tahir, the alleged mastermind of a Taliban suicide attack on the United Nations' World Food Programme offices that killed five people in October.

He too is allegedly linked to the 'Ghazi Force' established after the deadly Red Mosque siege in 2007.



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