Suicide bombers close Pakistani schools

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

International Islamic University
Image: Eng.Faizan.

Schools and universities throughout Pakistan have been closed a day after suicide attacks at the International Islamic University in Islamabad. The two bombings by suspected militants killed eight people and injured at last eighteen, creating fear amidst a major offensive against the Taliban. All but one of the deceased were students.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the bombings — the first since the current assault in South Waziristan — and said that the violence would continue until the army ends its operations in the region. Interior Minister Rehman Malik called the nation to unify when the country was in a state of war.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Rashid Mazari, said that all schools, colleges and universities would remain closed until the end of the week to prevent further suicide bombings and improve security measures; they may reopen next week provided the risk to security reduces. This follows the week-long closure of army and government-run schools, as well as some public schools, due to the current offensive in South Waziristan.

18,000 attend the International Islamic University, with almost 2,000 international students, many of which are from China. Whilst it is a major centre for Islamic studies, most choose subjects such as computing or management.

Not all accept that the Taliban were responsible for the bombings, suggesting instead anti-Islamic groups. "It shows clearly that anti-Islamic elements are involved in these attacks," said Abul Hassan, a student in economics.