A Pakistani masked tribal militant with assault rifle smashes an audio player seized in a raid at a music market in Khar, the main town of Pakistani tribal region Bajur along Afghan border, Friday, July 13, 2007. A group of 50 masked tribal Islamic militants, who call themselves “Mujahedin” or Islamic warriors smashed video cassettes confiscated from local music shops and demanded an end to vice and adherence to strict Islamic law. Militants in a show off force paraded men they accused of selling illegal drugs through a bazaar in Pakistan’s lawless border area with Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Haji Habibullah Khan)
By DENIS D. GRAY Associated Press Writer
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Jul 14, 2007 (AP)
A suicide bomber attacked a military convoy near the Afghan border on Saturday, killing at least 24 Pakistani soldiers as thousands of troops deployed to thwart a call for an anti-government holy war.
Twenty-nine troops were also wounded in the attack, one of the deadliest suicide bombings in Pakistan in recent months, said Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad. Elsewhere in the border region, Islamic militants detonated a roadside bomb and fired rockets on a military base.
The escalating violence along the frontier, a haven for Pakistani and foreign extremists, follows the government’s bloody attack on Islamabad’s Red Mosque which sparked calls for revenge from radical groups.
Pakistani commandos overran the mosque Wednesday, ending an eight-day siege with a hard-line cleric and his militant supporters. More than 100 died during the standoff.
Although no one claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, Arshad said he could not rule out the possibility that it was a reaction to the assault on the mosque.
* Arshad: You can bet your ass is was ‘a reaction to the assault on the mosque’
Maulana Fazlullah, a radical cleric with close links to the outlawed Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law, has told supporters to prepare for jihad against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf for the assault, the official said.
Fazlullah has pressed for Taliban-style rule in Pakistan much like the leaders of the Red Mosque.
“With help from local tribal elders, we are trying to ensure that militants lay down their arms and stop issuing calls for jihad against the government,” a senior military official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Separately, in what police called a “foiled terrorist attempt,” two 11-pound anti-tank mines attached to a timing device and battery were found in a car in downtown Peshawar, said Abdul Majeed Marwat, police chief of the northwest’s largest city.
Meanwhile, if you’re still wondering what they all have in common:
* In Pakistan, jihad means indeed ‘inner struggle’- just like in Iraq, or in Afghanistan, were half-civilized followers of the prophet fight against the ones who believe that Islam should replace civilization altogether.
* But here we have some evidence that the jihad is indeed global and not simply a series of various nationalist insurgent movements. Lal Masjid Update. By Dean Nelson and Ghulam Hasnain in the TimesOnline via JW
AL-QAEDA’S leadership secretly directed the Islamic militants whose armed revolt at the Red Mosque in Islamabad ended last week with more than 100 deaths after it was stormed by the Pakistan army.
According to senior intelligence officials, the troops who finally took control discovered letters from Osama Bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. They were written to Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Abdul Aziz, the brothers who ran the mosque and adjacent madrasah.
Government sources said up to 18 foreign fighters ï¿½ including Uzbeks, Egyptians and several Afghans ï¿½ had arrived weeks before the final shootout and set up firing ranges to teach students, including children, how to handle weapons.
Al-Qaeda has wanted to open a Pakistan front in its global jihad since President Pervez Musharraf sided with America after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Diplomats were surprised by the speed with which the fugitive Zawahiri condemned the raid and called on Pakistanis to rise up against Musharraf.
The lists of injured, dead and detained told their own story of panic and terror. Among those held in Adyala jail were a six-year-old boy, with two nine-year-olds for company.
There were 23 names on the list of confirmed dead, many of them aged 15 and 16. At the Federal Government Services hospital, 34 girls under 16 were treated for tear gas inhalation, including a six-year-old, four girls of eight, and many more younger than 12.
Hamid Gul, a former head of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service, said statistics like these, and the stories of dead and injured children, could drive Musharraf from power. “The government is trying to hide the number of young girls killed,” he claimed. “As the truth comes out that young girls were gassed and burnt, riddled with bullets and killed, it’ll be bad for Musharraf.”