Pakistan has overtaken Iraq and Afghanistan in suicide-bomb deaths this year, its intelligence agency reports. Thursday's attack in Islamabad struck the police's antiterrorism squad.
A suicide bomber struck the headquarters of the Anti-terrorism Squad of the Islamabad police force Thursday afternoon, just as lawmakers were preparing to convene 15 miles away to discuss growing militancy in the country.
The incident added to the rise in bomb attacks that Pakistan has seen over the past year, not only in its troubled northwestern region but also on high-profile targets in major cities like Islamabad, the capital.
"The message [from Thursday's attack] couldn't have been clearer," says Hassan Askari Rizvi, former professor of Pakistan Studies at Columbia University.
The militants, he continues, "want to show that they have the capacity to hit Pakistani institutions – even those ones trusted with the responsibility of protecting the rest."
Suicide bomb attacks have spiked in Pakistan, from two in 2002 to a record 56 in 2007, according to the Institute for Conflict Management, based in New Delhi. As of August of this year, the country had seen 25 suicide-bomb attacks, ICM reports.
In a grim indicator of the rise in attacks, according to Pakistan's intelligence agency, this year Pakistan has overtaken Iraq in suicide-bomb deaths.