Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pakistan Volleyball Game Attack: Will Local Opposition to Taliban Hold Firm?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pakistan Volleyball Game Attack: Will Local Opposition to Taliban Hold Firm?

Article excerpt

The death toll in a volleyball game attack in northwest Pakistan Friday has topped 90. The government may face increased pressure to target militants who slipped out of South Waziristan, where the government has conducted an offensive, and north into neighboring areas.

The death toll from a massive suicide attack at a volleyball

tournament in northwest Pakistan mounted to 95 on Saturday, in what

appears to be another retaliatory strike for recent Army offensives

against the Taliban.

More than 600 civilians have now lost their lives to such attacks

since the Pakistan Army began a military offensive in the Taliban

stronghold of South Waziristan in October. Friday night's attack

was the second deadliest of these, after a market bombing in Peshawar

in October that killed 130.

According to police, the main target of the New Year's Day attack in

the town of Lakki Marwat was probably a local anti-Taliban militia,

as militants seek to underscore their ongoing potency and counter

government claims that they are on the defensive.

But despite the setback, local opposition to the Taliban is likely

to remain firm, according to Abdul Basit, a security analyst at the

Islamabad based Pakistani Institute for Peace Studies.

"The dynamics currently are that people have understood the fact

that Taliban militants have broken the social ethos of Pashtun

society," he says, adding, "I don't believe it will dampen

their resolve."

Militias had received threatsLakki Marwat borders North Waziristan

and is home to a number anti-Taliban militias, known as lashkars,

which had been receiving threats in the runup to Friday's attack.

"We have been receiving threats from militant groups in the North

Waziristan," Mushtaq Marwat told Dawn newspaper.

District police chief Mohammad Ayub said that spectators had

gathered on a field on Friday evening to watch two local teams play

when an explosive-laden pickup rammed into a nearby wall. Several

houses and a portion of a nearby mosque where a militia meeting was

in progress were also destroyed in the blast, according to Gul Janan,

a member of the committee.

On Saturday, rescue workers continued to pull up bodies from the

rubble as the full extent of the carnage was uncovered. …

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