A suicide bomber detonated his vest on Wednesday in the town of Raiwind, Pakistan, just south of Lahore. The attack was meant to target Pakistani law enforcement, as it happened at a police checkpoint as they were changing shifts. So far, 25 people have been injured, 13 of which were police officers. The death toll is currently at 9, though reports are continuing to come in. Four of them are said to be Punjabi Police.
The bomber rode in on his motorcycle during a particularly busy time of the year — approximately 80,000 people were attending a nearby gathering called Raiwind Ijtema, a four-day religious session that has historically attracted droves of people, therefore requiring the assistance of a surge of police officers.
The blast is currently being investigated by Pakistani officials; body parts of the bomber have been recovered, as well as pieces of the motorcycle — the corpse of a suicide bomber can look uniquely different from someone sustaining a blast from nearby, and this can be crucial when identifying the cause of such an explosion, especially if no one was staring at the bomber when it happened (or if they don’t want to speak to the authorities).
The Taliban have claimed this attack. Typically speaking, the Taliban has had their conflict with Pakistani locals more to the northwest. Lahore and its surrounding areas are in the east, more toward India, and has largely been spared from this type of violence. Still, they have been pushing their presence throughout Pakistan, and Mullah Fazlullah has been largely in charge of this hostile takeover. He is a violent proponent of Sharia law throughout Pakistan and has been instrumental in attacks like this in the past — to include the attack on 16 Dec. 2016, where militants dressed as soldiers entered a school and killed 141 people, 132 of them being students. Fazlullah’s son was reported to have been killed recently along with other militants in a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan, many of which were planning similar suicide strikes throughout Pakistan.
Fazlullah’s Pakistani arm, of which he is in charge, goes by the name Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, meaning “Taliban Movement of Pakistan.” It is one of many groups run under the Taliban’s umbrella, though their goals actually often differ from the Taliban efforts in Afghanistan. Many Afghani Taliban wish to reclaim Afghanistan, whereas many Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan militants are purely interested in goals within Pakistan. This is where they often part ways, as many Afghani Taliban would rather make peace with the Pakistani government, using them as a safe haven to operate out of, whereas the Pakistani Taliban are decidedly enemies against the Pakistani state.
Featured image: Volunteers move a wounded police officer to a hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, March 14, 2018. | AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary