Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander and bigwig in his tribe's territory on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, said that he'd meet Bhutto with suicide bombers. That at least one suicide bomber had a blast in Karachi, an associate of his says the Taliban wasn't involved.
Bhutto thinks there may have been some combination of four groups involved in the attack:
- Taliban elements
- Pakistani Taliban
(I'm not sure what the distinction is)
- "A fourth -- a group -- I believe from Karachi," she said
Pakistani security types say that Bhutto should have stuck to their plan of flying to her speech by helicopter.
With 20-20 hindsight, it's obvious that a helicopter ride would have avoided the street-level attack. On the other hand, helicopters have been known to fall out of the sky, too.
It's 'way too early to know exactly what happened, but the Karachi police seem to be piecing together the evidence. There was at least one suicide bomber: a young man who first lobbed a grenade, and 22 seconds later blew himself up next to a truck.
The bomber's head landed near the rest of the wreckage, and was taken to a forensics lab. Karachi police hope to figure out who he was.
There was a police presence around Bhutto's convoy, including the van that helped shield her from the biggest blast. On the other hand, a broadcast news report said that there was a rather light distribution of police around the route.
Which might help explain why it took the convoy 10 hours to go through Karachi.
Bhutto didn't blame the Pakistani government, but said that individuals in the government might be involved. This isn't as crazy as it sounds. Karachi street lighting failed at sunset, and Bhutto's people couldn't call the national security adviser. Phone service wasn't working, either.
Sometimes conincidences are just that: "A sequence of events that although accidental seems to have been planned or arranged." (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition).
Sometimes, though, there are cause-effect links.
Pakistan isn't up to American standards of telecommunications, but they're not doing too badly in the major cities. And, one of the country's three international gateway exchanges is in Karachi - which shows that the major port city isn't a backwater.
Pakistan's national power agency, NEPRA, gives the impression that the Pakistani power grid is in pretty good shape. A claim I take with a grain of salt.
Just the same, I think it's odd that street lights go out and phone service failing in an Islamic country, just as the convoy of a woman who is likely to become president passes through town. With a light police presence.
Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.
Posts about Benazir Bhutto.