A suicide bomber targeted a police truck in western Pakistan on Wednesday, killing three and wounding 23 others. A related official said that the Taliban was involved in the attack. News from AFP.
The Pakistan Taliban is known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Different from the Taliban in Afghanistan, but radical.
On Monday, the group announced an end to a shaky ceasefire with Islamabad over the summer and ordered the resumption of offensives across the country.
Senior police officer Azhar Mehsar told AFP the blast targeted a police team tasked with providing security for polio vaccinators in the city of Quetta. The dead included a policeman, a woman and a child.
In a statement to AFP, the TTP claimed responsibility for the attack and said it would provide more details soon.
The group was founded in 2007 by Pakistani jihadists who fought the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1990s before opposing Islamabad’s support for American intervention there after 9/11.
For a time they occupied vast tracts of Pakistan’s unsettled tribal areas and imposed a radical interpretation of Islamic law there. They were patrolling the area only 140 km away from the capital of Pakistan.
The group has carried out several attacks in the past. The Pakistani military took a tough stance after 2014 when TTP militants attacked a school for children of army personnel and killed around 150 people. Most of them were students.
Most of the group’s fighters were driven into neighboring Afghanistan, but Islamabad claims the Taliban in Kabul are now allowing the TTP to launch attacks across the border.
According to the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), there has been a 50 percent increase in militant attacks in Pakistan since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan.
Most of these attacks have been concentrated in Afghanistan’s neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the western provinces of Balochistan.
The 2014 school attack deeply shocked Pakistan, and since then the TTP has vowed to target only state security forces. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries in the world where wild polio is still endemic.
Polio vaccination teams are regularly assisted by the police in the western regions, and the TTP has made a habit of ambushing officers as they travel through the restive remote areas. Pakistani officials on Monday launched a week-long vaccination campaign aimed at vaccinating more than 1.3 million children living in ‘high-risk districts’.
According to the government-funded ‘End Polio Pakistan’ programme, Pakistan reported its first case of polio in 15 months in April. Since then, 20 cases have been reported.