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Militant Attacks Renew Questions on Pakistan’s Security

Violence continued in Pakistan on Monday as militants detonated a car bomb in a crowded market in the northwest of the country. Gwen Ifill talks to a reporter in Islamabad about the renewed attacks.

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    For more on the bombings in Pakistan, I spoke earlier today with Chris Brummitt, the Associated Press bureau chief in Islamabad.

    Chris Brummitt, welcome.

  • CHRIS BRUMMITT, Associated Press:

    Good afternoon.


    When we look at what's happened in the past few days, it seems that they seem to be targeting particularly high-profile places, targets. Is that so?


    Well, certainly there's been four attacks, four major attacks now over the last eight days in Pakistan, two of which I guess you — you could call high-profile. There was a suicide bombing at the — at a U.N. office here in Islamabad.

    And, over the weekend, there was an attack on the army headquarters which, in Pakistan, you can't get much more — much more high-profile than that. So — so, you're right.


    So, to whom are they attributing all this new instability?


    Well, I mean, very broadly, it's Islamists militants of some — of some stripe.

    More specifically, most of the blame is — is being laid upon the Pakistani Taliban, which are based up in the northwest of the country. They're mostly Pashtun. And they're — they are seeking to overthrow the Pakistani government. They're also allied strongly with the Taliban across the border in Afghanistan.

    But over — in recent years, they have also formed linkages with al Qaeda and preexisting Pakistani militant groups. So, it's a whole mixture of militant networks here.


    A lot of the debate here in the States is about whether it's al Qaida or whether it's the Taliban or some mixture of both. In this case, do you think it's a mixture of both?


    Well, the — the Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the two most high-profile attacks, where the victims were U.N. staffers or — and the attack over the weekend at the army headquarters.

    They have not claimed responsibility for the two attacks which killed mostly Pakistani civilians. Perhaps there's little public relations benefit if they do that. But many analysts say that, especially the attack today, there are indications that they may have worked together with some other militant groups based in the Punjab, which is Pakistan's most populous province.

    These militants groups have been there pretty much — well, since before 2001, when — when they were used as proxies in Afghanistan and — and India by the Pakistani military. And, in recent years, they have been pretty much coalescing. They have the same aim, which is to overthrow the government. They're very anti-U.S. So, the U.S. presence across the border has also served a unifying factor, really.


    Were Pakistani authorities warned in advance? There have been some reports to that effect.


    Well, I think, ever since the head of the Pakistani Taliban was killed in a missile strike in early August, the militants themselves have warned of — of more attacks, and authorities have been repeating that they — they also expect some form of retaliation.

    But, just in July, there was a — a police crime — a criminal investigation department report specifically mentioning that militants may try and attack the army headquarters, and specifically militants wearing army uniforms.

    Now, whether this made it — made its way up to army headquarters, I don't know. But, certainly, whilst the attack on the H.Q. was — was shocking in its audacity and the fact it targeted, you know, the most high-profile institution in the country, I think, after three years of very, very frequent attacks, no one really here is that surprised when another attack here occurs.

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