Monday, 27 September 2021

Pakistan kills more than 100 militants after Sufi shrine attack


PAKISTAN killed more than 100 militants in a security crackdown following Thursday’s attack on a shrine that left at least 80 people dead. A suicide bomber blew himself up among devotees at the Sufi shrine in the town of Sehwan. Pakistan has reacted with raids across the country and by lashing out at Afghanistan which it accuses of tolerating militant sanctuaries. So-called Islamic State said it had carried out the attack. It was the latest in a string of bombings by the jihadist group. In response, some 18 militants were killed in southern Sindh province, where the Sufi shrine is located, and another 13 in the north-west, officials said. It is unclear where the other alleged terrorists were killed. Border crossings with Afghanistan have been closed and rockets have been fired into two Afghan provinces. Funerals for victims have been taking place on Friday and the Sindh provincial government has announced three days of mourning. Some 250 people were also wounded in the attack. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the bombing and immediately vowed to track down those behind it. Pakistan’s army chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, said in a statement: “Each drop of the nation’s blood shall be avenged, and avenged immediately. No more restraint for anyone.” Armed forces spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said more than “100 terrorists” were killed and many others arrested in 24 hours as part of operations across the country, including Punjab province. He said more details would be shared later. Correspondents say crackdowns of this type are a regular response from the state following a major militant attack.

Earlier, the paramilitary Rangers said they had targeted militants overnight in Sindh, while police said further ZARBEAZABraids were carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the north-west. The army also summoned officials from the Afghan embassy to its headquarters in Rawalpindi, protesting that Afghan soil was being used as a base for militants to carry out attacks in Pakistan. The army said it handed over a list containing the names of 76 “most wanted terrorists”, insisting that Afghanistan take immediate action against them. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday condemned the shrine attack, saying: “Terrorists once again proved that they have no respect for Islamic values.” Devotees continued to flock to the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan on Friday. The mood was defiant, with the customary naqqara (drum beating) taking place at daybreak as usual, and worshippers vowing to hold their routine dhamal (sacred dance) in the evening. There were also angry scenes, with some worshippers complaining to police that they had not provided enough security despite previous threats to the shrine. The shrine attack was the most deadly in a series of militant attacks since Sunday that have killed more than 100 people across Pakistan, including civilians, police and soldiers. Pakistanis blame elements in the Afghan intelligence agency and India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for supporting militants who carry out attacks against Pakistan.

Pakistan asks Afghanistan to handover 76 ‘most wanted’ terrorists

In an unusual move, Pakistan Army today handed over a list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists to Afghan embassy officials and demanded “immediate action” against them, amidst a spurt in terror attacks in the country. Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz also telephoned Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and urged him to take action against militants involved in terrorism inside Pakistan. Aziz called the Afghan National Security Adviser after an unnamed official from the Afghan embassy was summoned to military headquarters in Rawalpindi and handed down a list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists for “immediate action” or extradition to Pakistan. The Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement that Aziz underlined that the government and the people of Pakistan were in a state of deep anguish and pain at the recent terrorist incidents in various parts of Pakistan resulting into loss of precious human lives.

He conveyed to the Afghan National Security Adviser that terrorist group Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) was behind these barbaric acts of terrorism in Pakistan. Director General, Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asif Ghafoor said that the Afghan official was summoned to lodge protest against the use of Afghan soil by terrorists to carry out attacks in Pakistan, he said. Afghanistan was asked to either take “immediate action” against the named terrorists or hand them over to Pakistan, he said. The move comes two days after a senior Afghan diplomat was summoned to the Foreign Office in Islamabad to receive protest over the use of territory of his country for launching terrorist attacks in Pakistan, Dawn newspaper reported. The Afghan diplomat was given a demarche containing details of the recent terrorist attacks and supporting information. Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa yesterday vowed to avenge “every drop of blood” spilled by terrorists in Pakistan. “Recent terrorist acts are being executed on directions from hostile powers and from sanctuaries in Afghanistan. We shall defend and respond,” he had said.

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