Pakistans Taliban har ingen hemninger. Lørdag angrep selvmordsbombere en moske besøkt av militære med familier i Rawalpindi. 35 mennesker ble drept, hvorav flere offiserer, og 17 barn.
A Taliban suicide squad targeted Pakistani military officers and their families praying at a mosque Friday close to army headquarters in a gruesome display of the militants’ ability to strike at the center of power in this U.S.-allied, nuclear-armed nation.
The barrage of bombs and bullets left 37 people dead, including seven senior officers and 17 children.
The deaths of so many top brass inside a heavily fortified area a few miles from the capital was a major coup for the Pakistani insurgents, who are under pressure as the army pushes an offensive against their stronghold of South Waziristan along the Afghan border.
Friday’s carnage also dramatized the risks Pakistan faces if it steps up its support for the United States in the war against Islamic extremists on its side of the border with Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama believes Pakistan is a key partner in that war, but critics contend that Pakistan, hedging its bets in the event the Taliban eventually regain power in Kabul, has held back against Afghan insurgents who use the lawless border region as a safe haven.
They wore suicide belts under traditional baggy Pakistani clothes, lobbed grenades and sprayed automatic weapons at worshippers.
«They were killing people like animals,» witness Nasir Ali Sheikh. «Whoever they saw they shot at. They were well trained and moved very quick.»
At least four attackers took part in the attack, which left the walls of the mosque smeared with blood and victims lying on abandoned prayer mats.
Another witness, Ameeruddin Sheikh, cried when describing the corpse of a young boy.
«He was hardly 12 or 13 years of age. His face was fresh and blood was all over his body. His eyes were open and it was as if they were asking all of us what kind of jihadis would kill people when they were praying.»
Many of the military families who use the mosque, which had about 150 worshippers, live in army housing close by. Residents said that to enter the mosque people need to show military identification and were frisked by guards.
The commander of the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan claimed responsibility for the attack in a call to the BBC’s Urdu service, saying the mosque was targeted because it was used by the army. A military spokesman said he was aware of the claim.