Pakistan Terror Attacks Kill Dozens

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from The Wall Street Journal,

At least 72 dead after terrorists hit three Pakistani cities ahead of Eid celebrations next week.

The death toll from multiple terror attacks across Pakistan on Friday rose to 72 on Saturday, officials said, making it one of the deadliest days in the country so far this year and prompting the government to ramp up security and counterterrorism operations.

The number of people killed in three separate attacks in different parts of the country was the highest since February, when 88 perished in a suicide bombing at a Sufi Islamic shrine.

The Friday attacks came as people across Muslim-majority Pakistan prepared to celebrate the Eid festival next week that marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“The purpose of terrorist attacks two days before Eid is to spread uncertainty and chaos, but such cowardly acts can’t harm the nation’s resolve,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Saturday, and promised to respond with “full force.”

In the first incident, in the southwestern city of Quetta, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb when his vehicle was stopped by policemen at a checkpoint near the provincial police chief’s office, killing 13 and wounding more than a dozen. The bombing was claimed by Islamic State’s Khorasan chapter, which operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A faction of the Pakistani Taliban also separately claimed the bombing.

Later on Friday, in the northwestern town of Parachinar near the border with Afghanistan, two bombs tore through a crowded market, killing at least 55 people and injuring hundreds. The attack was claimed in text messages to local journalists by an unnamed spokesman of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al Alami, a rabidly sectarian Sunni Islamist militant group with links to international groups including al Qaeda.

In the third attack late Friday, gunmen shot four policemen dead in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.

The number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan has declined sharply after the government launched large-scale military operations against groups including the Pakistani Taliban in 2014. Militants, however, continue to be able to strike in different parts of the country. Pakistani officials say the continuing operations will continue until the threat is eliminated.

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