Friday the Pakistani Taliban targeted an air base that is believed to be one of the country’s secret nuclear weapons facilities. The attack comes among a wave of suicide bombings that killed at least 25 people across the country.
The attack on guard post at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra, about 40 miles outside Islamabad, killed eight people and raising fears about the security of the nuclear-armed state’s arsenal.
Officials were quick to deny that the facility, the major research centre for the air force, had links to the nuclear programme. However, Pakistan doesn’t specify which sites are involved in the programme and many independent experts believe that Kamra is a nuclear air base.
Later a bomber struck a bus, which was carrying a wedding party in the Mohmand tribal region close to the Afghan border. Four women and three children were among the 17 people killed. A car bomb then ripped through a hotel in an upmarket residential neighbourhood of Peshawar, capital of the North West Frontier Province, injuring more than a dozen people, Telegraph.co.uk reports.
It was also reports, the relentless pace of assaults against sensitive and prominent targets in Pakistan comes as the army is conducting a major offensive against Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in the remote tribal area of South Waziristan. The attacks are seen as reprisals by the militants for the campaign against them in their tribal heartland.
On Thursday morning, a senior army officer, Brig. Moinuddin Haider, was assassinated by two gunmen who attacked his jeep during rush-hour traffic in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.
The Taliban had warned before the start of the campaign in South Waziristan that they planned to unleash attacks against Pakistan’s military assets.
The Taliban attacked the headquarters of the Pakistani Army, in Rawalpindi, in a commando-style raid on Oct. 10. The insurgents took more than 40 civilians and soldiers hostage for 20 hours, and more than 20 people were killed in the siege, The New York Times reports.
In the meantime, the Red Cross says relief workers are being kept out of South Waziristan region, where the Pakistani army is mounting an anti-militant offensive.
A senior official said there was evidence that the level of civilian casualties there was rising sharply.
At least 16 wedding guests - most of them children - were killed when their minibus hit an explosive device in the tribal area of Mohmand, about 35km (22 miles) from the district capital, Ghalnai.
A suicide bomber killed seven other people near an air force base 60km south-west of the capital, Islamabad.
And in Peshawar, a car bombing wounded at least 15 people - the first attack in the city since the army began its offensive in nearby South Waziristan.
The International Committee of the Red Cross's head of operations for South Asia, Jacques de Maio, said reports from people who had managed to flee South Waziristan - and other areas of northern Pakistan where the army was battling militants - suggested that the number of civilian casualties had surged, BBC News reports.