Editorial - Mardan massacre - Friday, February 11, 2011

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=30480&Cat=8&dt=2/11/2011

The strike by a 14-year-old bomber, dressed in school uniform, at a military recruitment point in Mardan, is in many ways a terrifying event. More than 20 people have been killed, most of them young cadets taking parts in a parade. Some were only a few years older than the bomber – who of course belonged in school, and not on the streets clad in a suicide vest. The use of teenagers so young in this fashion is obviously made to put security personnel off guard and catch them unawares. The tactic seems to have worked in Mardan, as it has in the past in other places. Few would suspect that children can be ruthless killers, able to inflict the kind of havoc we saw at the military centre. The militants seem recently to be extending this tactic. A woman is reported to have been among six persons arrested in Bajaur. It is believed she was a would-be bomber. Security forces in the agency got wind of a house where women bombers were apparently being trained. Last year, in December, a woman suicide bomber blew herself up near a World Food Programme distribution point at Khar in the same agency, killing 47 people. The problems that arise from a security perspective when women are used as bombers are many, given that social norms dictate they are not usually stopped or searched at check-posts where mostly only male personnel are present.

The Mardan incident, as well as the arrests in Bajaur indicate that the killers are as active as ever. The brief lull we had seen some months ago in the rate of the blasts and bombings everywhere in the country has not lasted. Indeed, the terrorists seem to have moved ahead of security personnel again, developing new means to elude detection. They also seem able to run training centres to recruit bombers without check. There is simply no way of saying how this reality can be changed – but it is obvious that some way to achieve this will have to be found if our future is to be secured and if we are to ever escape the dreadful scourge of bombings that have already decimated – literally and metaphorically – so much of our society.

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