A car bomb exploded in a residential area of Islamabad, killing two people believed to be the terrorists and a police officer.
This event raises fears that extremists are present in Pakistan’s safest city. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The explosion also injured seven bystanders.
The attack took place 15 kilometers from the fortress city of Rawalpindi, where the country’s military infrastructure and intelligence services are located. According to police, the explosion occurred when officers spotted a car near a checkpoint and ordered the driver to stop for a routine check. Instead of stopping, the driver detonated the bomb. The Pakistani Taliban claim the driver was one of their fighters, and a passenger in the car was also killed.
Suhail Zafar Chatha, Islamabad’s deputy police chief, said the extremists could have killed dozens of people if they had succeeded in detonating a car bomb elsewhere in the city. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the explosion and thanked the police.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Mohammad Khalid Khurasani said in a statement that the attack was in retaliation for the killing of their top leader Abdul Wali or Omar Khalid Khurasani. Khorasani was killed in a bomb blast in August in the Afghan province of Paktika. The Pakistani Taliban called his death a hard blow and blamed Pakistani intelligence services for his murder without providing any evidence.
The Pakistani Taliban have stepped up attacks on security forces since November, when they unilaterally ended a months-long truce with the Pakistani government. The incident came days after several Pakistani Taliban prisoners attacked their guards at a detention center in northwest Pakistan, seized police weapons and took three police officers hostage.
On Tuesday, Pakistani special forces stormed the detention center. In the shootout, according to the military, 25 prisoners associated with the Pakistani Taliban were killed, as well as three soldiers. Since then, the government has stepped up security measures across the country, based on intelligence reports that the Pakistani Taliban have sent militants to carry out attacks on public places and police stations.
The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group, but they are linked to the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighboring Afghanistan last year following the withdrawal of US and NATO troops after 20 years of war. Since then, top TTP leaders and militants have been hiding in Afghanistan.