INTERVIEW
 
Violence Spreads in Pakistan
Al-Jazeera
July 16, 2007
Pakistan is hunting for links between increasing violence in the country’s northwest and the military's assault on Islamabad's Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque. Investigators continued their search on Monday, a day after fighters in the North Waziristan region scrapped a 10-month old peace deal, accusing authorities of violating the pact.

Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad, a professor at Pakistan’s Qauid-i-Azam university, told Al Jazeera: "The peace deal being terminated is no surprise."

"In 2004, they signed one deal, in 2005 another deal was signed in North Waziristan, the whole idea was that besides the military option, you should negotiate."

Rahimullah Yousafzai, an expert on the region, said: “Lal Masjid has just further provoked these people, who have already made up their minds to attack the military. It has added fuel to fire.”

Meanwhile, two suicide attacks on Sunday killed 45 people. A suicide bomber blew himself up at a police recruiting centre in Dera Ismail Khan, in North West Frontier Province, on Sunday, killing 29 people. Earlier, 16 people were killed when two suicide car-bombers ambushed a paramilitary patrol in the Swat valley, also in the province.

“Yesterday's attacks are likely to be linked to the Lal Masjid,” said a senior investigator in Dera Ismail Khan who declined to be identified. But he said: “We haven’t found any clues yet but we're looking into that aspect.”

Mosque assault

Nearly 100 people, most of them members of the security forces, have been killed in attacks in the northwest since July 3, when government forces surrounded the Islamabad mosque.

The army stormed the mosque compound last Tuesday, ending a week-long siege and killing 75 people, although some say the official figure is too low. Many of those killed at the mosque and many of the students who studied at the complex, were believed to have been from the North West Frontier Province, and security analysts had expressed fears of a backlash over the assault.

Fighters based in tribal regions on the Afghan border have been expanding their influence into towns and cities across North and South Waziristan.

Access interview at aljazeera.net