December 04, 2009

Pakistan update

Big time attack in Rawalpindi today, where Londonstani went for eid prayers a couple of days ago. The BBC is reporting 32 dead in an attack on a mosque. People are calling relatives frantically. The mobile network is creaking under the strain of the extra calls.

After the eid holidays, militants seem to have decided to let everyone know they are still a force to be reckoned with. Maybe they had a point to prove after recent comments by government officials that they had scored major successes in the Waziristan operation, which were then repeated by senior US and British officials.

Pakistani TV station Geo News is saying that at least two attackers entered a mosque used by army officers during Friday prayers and started firing on worshippers and throwing hand grenades.

More details and analysis to come, but initially it looks like a message from militants that the army's efforts haven't dimmed their capacity to carry out the sort of well executed and professional attacks they used in the storming of GHQ in the same city in October.

Interior Ministry Rehman Malik has just given a press conference where he reitered bland statements along the lines of "We are going after the people responsible".. "these people aren't Muslims. They attacked a mosque!! etc etc" It looks like he failed to answer the urgent concerns of journalists who asked about whether this is related to Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.

The journalists also wondered whether Shia processions to mark Muharram in the next few weeks will be targeted by militants. Londonstani is in Lahore today, a big Muharram procession takes place here every year. Local people in the old city, where thousands of Shia mark the occassion in narrow streets were saying they have received drect threats.

Is anyone else thinking Algeria 1990s?

UPDATE: Geo is reporting a general is among the dead. It's worth keeping in mind that Geo has a habit of reporting first and checking later.