After Brussels: New Suicide Attacks Target Iraq and Pakistan
The coordinated attack on the airport and subway station in Brussels that killed at least 31 people and injured over 300 was undoubtedly a wake-up call for many people across the world. It certainly captured the attention of international media but, as we saw happen with last year’s attack on Paris, the coverage of terrorist attacks has overwhelmingly focused on Westernized countries at the expense of other lives that have been lost. Hundreds of other people across the world have been killed this month alone. From the attack on a nursing home in Aden, Yemen and the massacre at a mosque in Maiduguri, Nigeria, to the horrifying tragedies in Peshawar, Pakistan and Ankara, Turkey, people all over the world have suffered, and are continuing to suffer, from terrorist attacks.
The unfortunate reality is that these tragedies have not ceased in the days following the attack on Brussels. While the world continues to mourn for victims there, here’s what you need to know about this week’s appalling terrorist attacks in Iraq and Pakistan.
March 25th: A Soccer Stadium in Iskandariyah, Iraq
As Iskandariyah’s mayor, Ahmed Shaker, was handing out trophies after a soccer game on Friday, a suicide bomber set off explosives that killed at least 41 people and wounded 105 more. The victims included Shakar, several members of his security team, and at least 17 boys between the ages of 10 and 16. It was a horrifying tragedy that was made all the more appalling given the report that the suicide bomber was a teenager himself. In the days following the attack, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the killings.
The attacks targeted this soccer game specifically because it was sponsored by Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a powerful Shiite militia that has been at the forefront of the fight against ISIS. It also followed another suicide bombing earlier this month by the terrorist group that left at least 60 dead after an explosives-filled fuel tanker slammed into an Iraqi security checkpoint. These bombings were in response to the Iraqi government’s victories against the terrorist group in their western and northern provinces.
March 27th: A Public Park in Lahore, Pakistan
Just yesterday, a powerful blast ripped through the parking lot of a public park in the city of Lahore. The explosion, which killed at least 71 people and wounded 300 more, occurred as Christian families gathered in the 67-acre park for the Easter holiday. A splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban called Jamaat-e-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the blast and their spokesperson, Ehsanullah Ehsan, released a statement confirming that the group was targeting Christians.
Jamaat-e-Ahrar broke off from the larger Pakistani Taliban group two years ago and is made up of disgruntled Taliban factions from four of the seven tribal districts along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. The blast appeared to be related to the Feb. 29th execution of Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, who killed the secular governor Salmaan Taseer in 2011. The mayor had campaigned for reforms to the country’s blasphemy laws because they unfairly persecuted religious minorities, but many Pakistanis disagreed with him. They claimed that altering the country’s blasphemy laws was criminal and in the years following Taseer’s murder, Qadri became a revered figure to supporters. The blast at the park followed two suicide attacks this month in Peshawar in retribution for Qadri’s murder—one at a courthouse and one on a bus carrying government employees.
Stay tuned to Milk for more on the fight against terrorism.
Images via PBS, Haidar Hamdan, the Washington Post, and NBC News.