Night Watch

Pakistan: At least eight people including a provincial law minister were killed following a suicide bomb blast in north-west Pakistan on Wednesday during their celebration of Eid al Adha.

According to local police officials, at least 30 others also were injured following the suicide attack which took place near the town of Dera Ismail Khan. Senior police officer Mohammad Jan said the minister of law for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Israullah Gandapur, was meeting with people at his house to celebrate the Muslim Eid holiday when the attack took place.

Comment: Minister Gandapur was a local tribal chief, a member of the provincial parliament representing Dera Ismail Khan and the law minister for in the cabinet of Khyber Pakutunkhwa Province in northwestern Pakistan. Mr. Gandapur was a member of the PTI party which governs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and which backs talks with the Pakistani Taliban

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The last sensational attack in Dera Ismail Khan occurred on 29 July when a force of 125 anti-government fighters from three different militant groups executed a complex operation to break into the central prison at Dera Ismail Khan. With inside help plus mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, they succeeded and freed more than 250 prisoners. The escapees included about 50 militant leaders who were described as "hard-core."

The significance of the latest attack is that is that it represents a violent rejection of offers of peace talks by at least some anti-government groups. The Pakistani Taliban leadership said it is open to talks, but also said it will not disarm. It and other anti-government militants do not recognize the Pakistani constitution, will not stop fighting and will not talk to the government until Pakistan Army operations against them halt, prisoners are released and US drone attacks stop.

The attack also suggests that the leaders of the Pakistani Taliban do not speak for all the anti-government groups and do not control them. Pakistani experts judge that three groups of fighters worked together to execute the 29 July attack. None of them owe allegiance to the Pakistani Taliban.

One or more of them, including one called the Punjabi Taliban, are as likely to be responsible for this attack as the Pakistani Taliban. If the attack was done by the Punjabi Taliban, they will take credit for it, as they did for the July attack.

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