Pakistani police detain 36 people over courtroom bombing
PAKISTAN: Police in southwestern Pakistan have detained 36
people, mostly Afghan refugees, for questioning about a suicide bombing
inside a courtroom that killed a judge and 15 other people, an official
The suicide bomber struck a crowded courtroom in the city of Quetta
on Saturday in the deadliest of a series of attacks in recent weeks.
There is suspicion in Pakistan that pro-Taliban militants are
targeting sensitive sites to undermine the country's support of the
United States, and an official in the region where Saturday's attack
took place hinted at Afghan involvement.
The explosion wounded 24 people and left bloodied clothes and body
parts scattered next to wrecked furniture and shattered glass in the
Quetta District Courts. It forced police - already on alert - to further
tighten security nationwide.
The chief of police in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province,
said Sunday that 36 people, including at least 22 Afghan refugees living
in the city, have been detained in a probe into the bombing.
"We will investigate them to determine whether anyone among them has
any link with the incident," said police chief Raho Khan Brohi.
The men were picked up in separate raids in various parts of Quetta
late Saturday but no one was a suspect or formally arrested in the case,
"Afghans have been involved in previous such attacks here. I cannot
rule out their involvement," said Jam Mohammed Yousaf, the top elected
official in Baluchistan, on Saturday. "We don't have any evidence to
prove it," he added.
Relations between the neighbouring countries have soured over Afghan
allegations that Pakistan is supporting Taliban militants who have
escalated their campaign of violence in the neighboring country over the
past year. Pakistan denies helping the militants but acknowledges that
some operate from its soil.
Increasingly, it appears Pakistan itself has become a battleground.
There have been about 10 bombings in the past month, mostly in the
northwest, but the capital Islamabad has also been targeted in suicide
attacks at its international airport and the Marriott Hotel.
Saturday's blast in Quetta, a city where Taliban activists and
leaders are alleged to hide, was by far the deadliest.
Earlier Pakistani police said they had arrested three members of a
banned Islamic group, thought to be behind several attacks against
minority Shiite Muslims in the country.
The arrests were made in the town of Sukhar in southern Sindh
province, area police chief Mazhar Nawaz Sheikh told reporters at a
He said the suspects were operatives of the banned Sunni militant
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group and were planning attacks on Shiites in the
first week of next month in southwestern Baluchistan province.
Meanwhile Pakistan has renewed a call for neighbouring Afghanistan to
open dialogue with Taliban insurgents to stem the rise in violence in
the war-torn country.
Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai, a former general who is now governor of
the North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan, warned the
Taliban-led insurgency was already turning into a "liberation war" in
It is "developing into some kind of nationalist movement, a
resistance movement, some sort of liberation war against the coalition
forces," he told journalists in the provincial capital of Peshawar.
Aurakzai was speaking ahead of a rare media trip to North Waziristan,
an area used by Taliban militants close to the Afghanistan border.
A group of journalists flew Saturday to Miranshah, the main city in
North Waziristan where thousands of troops are deployed to stop Taliban
cross-border movement, for a briefing by senior army officials.
In September Aurakzai engineered a peace deal with militants in North
Waziristan, evoking suspicions from Kabul and the commanders of
international forces battling the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has strongly defended the agreement, saying it has helped
curtail infiltration across the porous frontier into Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has openly accused Pakistan of fostering an insurgency by
the Islamist Taliban, while Islamabad's western allies have shown
increasing concern over its pacts with the militants. The conflict
killed 4,000 people last year.