Car bomb kills 15 in Pakistani anti-terror unit

Saturday, September 15, 2007

15 elite commandos in the Pakistan anti-terror unit have been killed in a suicide car bomb attack.

The car rammed into the brigade headquarters of the Special Operations Task Force, part of the Pakistan military Special Services Group, set up in conjunction with the United States. It is believed to be the work of Islamic terrorists. The bomb destroyed the mess hall, killing at least 15 and injuring 50 more, six critically. It is thought the dead may include members of the CIA.

The wounded were taken to a local military hospital for treatment, while security forces secured the scene of the blast.

The attack coincided with US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte visiting the country. The Special Operations Task Force was heavily involved in last month’s storming of the Red Mosque in Islamabad, and is accused by Islamic extremists with links to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban of brutal conduct in the incident. The unit has also attacked terrorists near the border on which Osama bin Laden is thought to be hiding.

“This signals the transformation of the Islamic militants trying to bring down [Pakistani President Pervez] Musharraf from rag-tag fighters to highly skilled insurgents able to attack at will,” a diplomatic observer said last night. “It is an extremely worrying development from the point of view of Musharraf and those who support him.” Observers have expressed concern at the fact that the bomber was able to successfully attack such a high-profile and heavily guarded target as the headquarters, especially considering the building’s close proximity to the Tarbela Dam generator, considered an important strategic asset.

“This is a high-security zone,” one official said. “Obviously, this was someone who was known and familiar to the soldiers there, and it could be one of the civilians working at the base.”

Earlier this month, an attack aimed at the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence killed 25 people.

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