BOMBINGS AND SUICIDE ATTACKS: A PLAGUE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER

Identifier: 
06ISLAMABAD22057

C O N F I D E N T I A L ISLAMABAD 022057

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/16/2016
TAGS: AF, PK, PREL, PTER
SUBJECT: BOMBINGS AND SUICIDE ATTACKS: A PLAGUE ON BOTH
SIDES OF THE BORDER

Classified By: Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) A November 17 suicide bomb attack on a police van in
Peshawar that killed the bomber and seriously injured two
police officers is another reminder that the recent spike in
suicide bombings in Afghanistan is now mirrored on this side
of the Pak-Afghan border. The November 8 suicide bomb attack
on Dargai Fort in Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) that
killed 42 army recruits was the deadliest attack in Pakistan
to date. A week earlier, on November 1, a car bomb in Quetta
killed three people and injured seven; this was also an
apparent suicide attack, although local police have since
said the driver may not have been aware he was carrying a
bomb. In addition, three timed bombs exploded in Peshawar in
October, one of which killed six people in a food market. A
bomb hidden in a rubbish bin in Lahore exploded November 17,
killing three people.

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GOP Recognizes the Problem
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2. (C) On November 16, journalists from Pakistani and
American news outlets told Poloffs that, in background
briefings after the October 30 missile attack on an extremist
madrassa in Bajaur, GOP officials indicated that militants at
the madrassa had been training as suicide bombers and were
preparing for imminent attacks. These reporters, all of whom
challenged the GOP claim that its forces conducted the air
strike, said they had no reason to disbelieve the
government's assertion that the Bajaur madrassa was being
used to train suicide bombers. In fact, they expressed
concern that such training was spreading in the tribal areas.
Contacts in both NWFP and Islamabad note that the November 8
suicide attack on Dargai Fort has led many who had initially
accepted news reports that young schoolchildren had been
killed in the Bajaur air strike to reconsider the GOP claims
that the Bajaur facility was actually a militant training
site. Dramatically increased police protection at airports
and in parts of Islamabad since Dargai, and rumors in local
newspapers of other suicide bombers ready to strike, indicate
that both the government and the population are aware of the
increasing threat from such attacks.

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Comment
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3. (C) For all the talk of the training of suicide bombers,
two of Pakistan's three suicide attacks in November seem to
have been bungled, with the bomber (or unwitting proxy)
failing to arrive at a densely populated area prior to the
explosion. Nevertheless, the Dargai attack showed that
suicide bombers do not need to be smart or lucky every time.
After the heavy loss of life in the Dargai attack, facile
claims that the GOP is supporting or tolerating militant
groups that recruit and train suicide bombers are losing
credibility. Pakistanis -- particularly the Army, security
forces and police -- are paying a heavy price in these
attacks.
CROCKER