Terror attacks are nothing out of the ordinary in Pakistan, but this attack on Monday is causing even more consternation than others because it exposes the weaknesses in its own security services as well as its inability to control terror groups that in the past it helped create.
On Monday, a terrorist gunman in Quetta shot Bilal Anwar Kasi, the leader of the Balochistan Bar Association, where Quetta is the provincial capital of the province of Balochistan, which is in southwest Pakistan bordering Iran and Afghanistan.
Kasi was taken to Quetta’s Civil Hospital, where a group of lawyers gathered to mourn his death. A suicide bomber then approached the lawyers and exploded, killing at least 75 people, mostly lawyers, and injuring at least 115 others.
Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA, Assembly of Freedom) claimed responsibility. JuA has long been one of the terrorist groups under the umbrella group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). JuA split off from TTP in the middle of 2014 in a disagreement caused by TTP’s plans to hold peace talks with Pakistan’s government. JuA has rejoined TTP last year, but has also declared allegiance to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). For that reason, ISIS is also claiming responsibility for the attack.
On March 15 of last year, JuA claimed responsibility for suicide bombers at two churches, one Catholic and one Protestant, also in Lahore, killing 15 people and injuring 70.