Pakistan: Derailing The Railways – Analysis

October 11, 2016

Two coordinated blasts targeting railway tracks hit near the Rawalpindi-bound Jaffar Express on October 7, 2016, in the Ab-e-Gum area of the Bolan District in Balochistan, killing at least six people and leaving another 18 injured. Initial reports suggest that a bomb had been planted along the railway track. The second explosion took place in the same area 20 minutes later.

On June 5, 2016, unidentified militants blew up a two-foot portion of a track in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED)attack in the Kolpur area of Bakhtiarabad in Bolan District. Though, there was no loss of life reported, the damage to the tracks suspended rail services for hours.

On May 10, 2016, three wagons of a goods train overturned and another six derailed when two bombs exploded on a track near Goth Mureed Sipio Railway Crossing in Tandojam area of Hyderabad District in Sindh. No casualties were reported. Hyderabad Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Khadim Hussain Rind disclosed that a pamphlet written in Sindhi was found at the place, but declined to share its contents.

On April 5, 2016, two passengers of the Quetta-bound Jaffar Express were killed and five were injured when a bomb exploded on a railway track near Mithri area of Sibi District. According to the Railway Police, “It was an IED which was detonated by a remote control. The blast blew up a major portion of the track.”

In the same Mithri area of Sibi District on January 28, 2016, two bogies of the Jaffar Express had been damaged in an explosion, with no casualties.The Jaffar Express was travelling from Quetta to Lahore when the blast occurred, destroying two feet of the railway track, suspending the service between Balochistan and other parts of the country for many hours.

While the Jaffar Express has been targeted repeatedly, the wider Rail network across Pakistan has also come under recurring attack. According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the Railways in Pakistan have been attacked on at least 134 occasions since March 2000 (data till October 7, 2016). Of these, 126 attacks have been recorded in just two Provinces: Sindh and Balochistan, with 63 incidents each. 96 fatalities have been recorded in these134 attacks, with 60 killed in Balochistan and 26 in Sindh. 2010to 2014 was the worst time for the Pakistan Railways, with 104 attacks on trains, tracks and stations, resulting in the deaths of 65 people, mostly passengers, and injuries to more than another hundred.

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