A suicide bomber wounded five children, a driver, and a security guard in an attack on a school bus in Kamra, about sixty kilometers northwest of Islamabad.
“This barbaric attack shows how cruel the terrorists are,” said Major General Waheed Arshad, a spokesman for the Pakistani military. The attack came a day after a suicide bomber killed at least six people, two of them children, at a military checkpoint in Pakistan’s Swat valley.
Pakistan’s security forces say that in recent weeks they have engaged in combat with Islamic extremists and pushed them out of the Swat valley area of northwest Pakistan. Led by pro-Taliban Muslim cleric Maulana Fazlullah, the extremists had taken control of a number of small towns and villages in the Swat valley and had tried to impose their version of Islamic law. Shops selling music CDs or videos were bombed and proprietors threatened. Residents of Mingora city’s celebrated “music street,” a neighborhood known for traditional dancing and music, were told their homes would be blown up if they continued to work as entertainers. “Dozens of families have shifted to other cities, while many others are stuck here without any means of a living,” said Fazl-e-Maula.
Pakistani troops recently captured and closed an radio station operated by Maulana Fazlullah known as “Mullah Radio.” The station broadcast threats against those who defied the extremists. Pakistan army general Nasser Janjua [nah-sair JAHN-joo-ah] says Mr. Fazlullah is now “on the run with hardcore militants estimated to be between two-hundred to four-hundred, including some foreigners.”
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said the U.S. supports Pakistan’s efforts to combat violent extremists:
“A democratic Pakistan that continues the fight against terror is vital to the interests of both the United States and Pakistan.”
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher said, “the government of Pakistan is at war with a violent minority that is seeking to undermine a largely peaceful, law-abiding Pakistani citizenry deserving of the freedoms their country heralded at its inception.” Fighting terrorism, said Mr. Boucher, is “a preeminent goal of U.S. policy in Pakistan.”