LAHORE, PAKISTAN — A suicide bomber attacked a court in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar today, killing 11 and injuring more than 30, according to local officials.
The latest bombing reaffirms the city’s status as the main target of retributive action by the Taliban amid ongoing Pakistani Army offensives aimed at militants in the country’s northwest, and brings an end to a two-week lull in attacks. More than 270 have been killed in terror attacks in the provincial capital since October.
Today’s attack could have been much worse, however. The bomber detonated a suicide vest as he was intercepted by two police officials while nearing the entrance of the court, said Peshawar police chief Liaquat Ali.
“People have been saved because of the security force,” senior provincial minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour told reporters. “If, God forbid, he had entered, we don’t know how many would have died.”
The attacks in and around Peshawar have gotten so bad that they are causing those who are able to leave the city to think about moving elsewhere. Some professionals are now trying to migrate to other parts of the country or abroad, says Professor Nasir Jamal Khattak, head of the English department at the University of Peshawar.
“I know quite a few people who are leaving and professors who are thinking of moving outside the country. Previously that wasn’t the case,” says Mr. Khattak, adding that a degree of fatigue is creeping in for those who remain behind. “I wish we could stop it, but it has become part of our life now. … Sometimes it’s difficult to move around the city. …”
Frustration was also evident in a press conference by the province’s information minister, Mian Ifthikar Hussain. “The militants target all places, from mosques to markets,” he said. “We have to question how good our security arrangements are, and for how long can we depend on defense alone. What we need to do is eliminate them [militants] once and for all. We need to target their areas to weaken their bases.”