PESHAWAR: In sharp contrast to their past practice of owning up to terrorist attacks in Pakistan, two local militant groups now operating from their sanctuaries in Afghanistan have denounced a suicide bombing in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, which killed at least 33 people and injured about 100 others.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, an offshoot of banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, and banned Lashkar-i-Islam have distanced themselves from the attack.
Ihsanullah Ihsan, the spokesman for Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, said in a statement: “People who carried out this act have nothing to do with Islam and Muslims. Bombing at public places is a conspiracy to defame the mujahideen. We consider bleeding of any Muslim unjustified.”
In a statement, the spokesman for Lashkar-i-Islam, a Khyber Agency-based militant faction led by Mangal Bagh, said his group did not support such attacks.
The condemnation by the Pakistani militant groups has baffled security analysts who believe that it may be an attempt to avoid outrage in Afghanistan, which may lead to their eviction from what is their last sanctuary.
“The groups were always quick to accept responsibility for acts (of terrorism) committed inside Pakistan. It is mind-boggling that they were quick to condemn a similar act in Afghanistan,” a security analyst said. “Do they fear losing their last sanctuary in Afghanistan?”
He added: “The self-styled Islamic State, which has accepted responsibility for the bombing in Jalalabad (the capital of Nangarhar province), is an ally of the groups fighting Pakistani security forces in Tirah. It is surprising that they have condemned an act committed by their ally.”
Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2015