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Terrorism & Security

Suicide car bomb kills 12; Pakistan says it captured US Al Qaeda member

Pakistan officials said a suicide car bomb in Lahore on Monday killed 12, and also announced the arrest of a suspected US Al Qaeda member from Pennsylvania.

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No group immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell on the Pakistani Taliban and allied militant groups, according to the Associated Press. The attack appeared to target a building used to interrogate suspects. Officials say that there were no detainees in the facility at the time of the bombing, which also damaged a nearby religious school and many houses, reports The Nation.

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While the deadly blast left residents shaken, Pakistani security officials say it is the first attack in the city since December, indicating that recent military campaigns have strained the Taliban and Al Qaeda’s operational capabilities. Pakistani officials said it showed the desperation of militants, The Telegraph reports.

"It shows the effectiveness of the operations in Waziristan that there have been no attacks since that time. The terrorists' base has been hit and their networks have been destroyed," Imran Ahmar of Lahore's Security Police said.

Military operations in Pakistan have caused significant damage to the senior Taliban leadership there. Most recently, a joint US-Pakistani raid led to the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, deputy commander of the Taliban (read more on the significance of his capture).

The Monitor and other sources reported over the weekend that senior Pakistan Taliban leader Maulvi Faqir Mohammad was likely killed in an airstrike Friday.
But he has since claimed he is alive, Reuters reports.
"I'm fine. It's just propaganda," the man on the telephone who identified himself as Mr. Mohammad told Reuters. The reporter had spoken to Mohammad before and said he recognized his voice.

Many locals remained unimpressed by the confident claims of security officials. The area where the blast occurred has a high level of security to protect government facilities, causing many residents to express disbelief that a bomber could penetrate the area, reports The Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper. Other residents blamed security officials for putting them at risk by locating the offices of a national intelligence agency near the city’s residential area.

"It is really strange how terrorists managed to enter the area, which was closed for general public," one witness said.

"We have been asking the authorities to move this sensitive office out of the city's residential area but our repeated requests remained unanswered," Mohammad Saeed, an angry local resident, told reporters.

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