2014: Suicide Attacks Declined in the Country despite Alarming Increase in Punjab

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During year 2014 a remarkable reduction in suicide attacks has been observed in Pakistan while civilians remain major victims. Operation Zarb-e-Azb has dented capability of militants to carry out suicide attacks frequently. According to statistics released by The Conflict Monitoring Center which now works as statistical division of an Islamabad based independent think tank, Pak Institute for Conflict and Security Studies(PICSS) the militants fighting against state have carried out 30 suicide attacks in which 282 people including 189 civilians, 48 security forces personnel, seven pro-government armed Razakars and 38 militants were killed while 562 people including 518 civilians, 39 security forces personnel and five pro-government Razakars were wounded. A 36 percent decline in suicide attacks was recorded during the year as 47 suicide attacks were carried out in 2013. Impact of Operation Zarb-e-Azb was visible from the fact that 77 percent of the attacks during the year 2014 were carried out before the operation.

Eight suicide attacks were carried out against civilian targets including public places, pilgrims, and schools. Government and security forces installations were targeted in 10 suicide attacks, while three attacks were reported against peace committee members.  Army was targeted in at least four suicide attacks during the year 2014, two attacks against police and one each against Rangers and FC was reported.

During the year 2014, KPK remained the most affected province that witnessed 10 suicide attacks in which 48 people were killed and 151 injured. Peshawar (the provincial capital of KPK) remained the most affected district of the country that witnessed seven attacks during the year. Despite having highest number of suicide attacks in the province during 2014, an unprecedented improvement in security situation was also observed in KPK where suicide attacks dropped 54 percent. Operation Zarb-e-Azb played a major role in reduction of suicide attacks in the province as militants could carry out only one suicide attack during operation Zarb-e-Azb. Average death in the province also dropped from 15 to five per deaths per attack. 338 people were killed and 608 were injured in 22 suicide attacks in 2013.

KPK was followed by Balochistan and Sindh where seven and five suicide attacks were recorded by the CMC during the year. In Balochistan 71 people were killed and 164 were injured in suicide attacks during the year. Number of suicide attacks in Balochistan dropped from ten to seven. In 2013, the province had witnessed 10 suicide attacks in which 192 people had been killed and 526 injured.

All suicide attacks in Sindh were recorded only in Karachi, in which 50 people were killed and 64 injured. In five suicide attacks. Suicide attacks not only slightly increased in Sindh but they were also deadlier than previous year. Only 16 people were killed in four suicide attacks in 2013. Security situation in Karachi could not improve much despite a targeted operation by Rangers. Reports indicate increased number of TTP and Al-Qaeda related activities in the Karachi.

Most significant and alarming increase in suicide attacks was observed in Punjab during 2014 as the year saw four times increase in such attacks. During previous two years only one suicide attack was observed in each year while in 2014 the number increased to four which is the highest number of suicide attacks during last four years. Prior to 2010, Punjab was second most affected province by suicide attacks after KPK however security situation in the province gradually improved after Pakistan Muslim League N came into power in the province. Deadliest suicide attack of 2014 was also carried out in Punjab when a bomber exploded him in crowd at Wahga border near Lahore in November. Federal capital Islamabad witnessed a suicide-cum gun attack at district courts complex in March.

At least 10 banned militant outfits were involved in carrying out suicide attacks during the year 2014.  Out of 30 suicide attacks, at least 10 were carried out by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), three each by Jamat-ul-Ahrar and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, two by Jundullah and one each by Jaish-ul-Islam, Ansar-ul-Mujahidin, Fedayeen-e-Islam and Mast Gul group. The most lethal and deadliest suicide bombings of the year include TTP bomber attack on security forces vehicle at RA Bazaar in Rawalpindi which killed 13 and injured 18 people on 20th January. Earlier on 9th January, TTP suicide attacker had killed a Senior Superintendent of Police (Crime Investigation Department) Chaudhry Aslam in Karachi. LeJ attacker exploded himself up in a bus carrying pilgrims, killed 30 and wounded 32 people in Mastung district of Baluchistan on 21st January. Jundullah suicide bomber who blew himself up in Kocha Risaldar area of Peshawar, killed 9 and wounded 25 people on 4th February. A little known militant group, Fedayeen-e-Islam bomber killed 11 police officers and wounded 36 others in Razzaqabad Police Training Center in Shah Latif Town area of Karachi on 13th Feb. On 3rd March, Ahrar-ul-Hind (apparently a fake name used by TTP to divert attention) carried out deadliest twin suicide attacks at the district court in Islamabad’s sector F-8, killed 11 and wounded 35 others. Islamabad Additional Session Judge Rafaqat Ahmad Khan Awan and a female lawyer were among the dead.  On 14th March, Ahrar-ul-Hind bomber targeted armoured personnel vehicle (APV), killed 8 and wounded 45 others. Jaish-ul-Islam, mainly operating in Syria against Shia government, claimed to have carried out suicide attack on Shia pilgrims in Taftan area of Chaghi district, killed 30 and injured 16 people on 8 June. On 2nd of November, Jamat-ul-Ahrar militants carried out suicide attack on Wagah border that killed 55 people and wounded 120 others.

Pattern of suicide attacks, militant activities, military operations and changing dynamics of militancy on ideological lines indicate that suicide attacks are less likely to increase in 2015 but they are expected to be more aimed at significant and attention grabbing targets. Police will remain most vulnerable force in the ranks of security forces while military installation and personnel may be tested against threat of suicide and other militant attack in 2015.

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