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IEDs in Pakistan: Hidden Danger
  • IED mine
    IED mine
On September 16, 2022, one Frontier Corps trooper was killed and three were injured when Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) cadres targeted a Frontier Corps vehicle with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on Sabzal Road at Podgali Chowk in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan. BLA ‘spokesman’ Azad Baloch claimed responsibility of the attack.

On September 13, 2022, a peace committee member and two of his Police guards were among eight people killed and seven injured in an IED explosion at the Kot Katai village of the Bara Bandi area in the Kabal tehsil (revenue unit) of Swat District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The peace committee member, identified as Idrees Khan, was the target of the blast. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that Idrees Khan had been on their hit-list for nearly 13 years. Idrees Khan had played a prominent role in mobilising resistance against the TTP in the Swat Valley in 2007. He was named chairman of the village Aman Committee in recognition of his bravery, and had survived multiple attempts on his life in the past. 

On September 12, 2022, five Army soldiers were killed when Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) cadres attacked an Army convoy with an IED at Hamzai Koh in the Mand tehsil of Kech District in Balochistan. BLF ‘spokesman’ ‘Major’ Gwahram Baloch claimed responsibility for the attack.

On August 31, 2022, one employee of Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) was killed, and another sustained injuries, when militants detonated an IED at the work site of PPL in the Sheikhri area of Kalat town (Kalat District) in Balochistan. 

On August 30, 2022, one Frontier Corps trooper was killed and another was injured in an IED blast in the Yusufabad area of Khar tehsil in Bajaur District, KP.

On August 13, 2022, three militants were killed and five were injured when militants were trying to plant an IED in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan District, KP.

On August 13, 2022, a soldier identified as Sajid was killed in an IED blast in the Bara Banda area of Lower Dir District, KP. 

On August 10, 2022, two terrorists were killed in an exchange of fire with the Army's Quick Reaction Force, after the Force responded to an explosion that was triggered by an IED that targeted a Police vehicle in the Kulachi area of Dera Ismail Khan District, KP. 

On August 9, 2022, six persons were injured and nearby shops and vehicles were damaged in an IED blast on the Anam-Bostan Road in Nushki town (Nushki District), Balochistan. 

On August 4, 2022, a man was killed when an IED that he was carrying exploded near the Deputy Commissioner's office in Kotri town, Jamshoro District, Sindh. 

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Pakistan has already recorded a total of at least 22 incidents of IED attacks, resulting in 41 deaths (36 SF personnel and five civilians) and over 58 persons injured, in 2022 (data till September 17). These incidents have been registered in three provinces: Balochistan (13 incidents, 27 killed and 23 injured), KP (seven incidents, 12 killed and 14 injured) and Sindh (two incidents, two killed and 21 injured). During the corresponding period of the previous year, Pakistan recorded a total of at least 17 such incidents, resulting in 17 deaths (16 SF personnel and one terrorist) and over 32 persons injured. The whole 2021 reported 23 incidents of IED attacks resulting in 29 deaths (27 SF personnel, one civilian and one terrorist) and over 39 persons injured. Since March 6, 2000, the number of such explosions stands at 573, resulting in 1,158 deaths and over 2,700 persons injured. According to SATP, between 2018 and 2021, at least 128 persons (44 civilians, 83 SF personnel and one terrorist) have been killed in 83 IED attacks while 313 persons (200 civilians and 113 SF personnel) sustained injuries. [Since media access is heavily restricted in the most disturbed areas of Pakistan, and there is only fitful release of information by Government agencies, the actual figures could be much higher."> 

  IED attacks in Pakistan: 2000*-2022**


Source: SATP, *March 6, 2000, **Data till September 18, 2022

IEDs remained a serious threat in the tribal areas of Pakistan, i.e., Balochistan and KP. Worse, when the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) started returning to their homes in 2017, after a series of military operations in the tribal areas of KP and the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), they found their villages and areas surrounding their homes littered with deadly landmines. 

Mohammad Mumtaz Khan, an IDP from South Waziristan, describing his personal horror story about IEDs, on April 26, 2018, “I am lucky that I got away with a small injury. It may not be so the next time around. The mountains and valleys were teeming with improvised explosive devices and explosive remnants of war.”

Raza Shah, who heads the Sustainable Peace and Development Organization, an active member of the global Control Arms Coalition and International Action Network on Small Arms, agreed, “Despite having cleared the area of militants, it is not possible for many to move about freely as the place remains infested with landmines.”

In 2012, the Army established the Counter IED Explosives and Munitions School to help train responders to reduce the IED threat.  An inter-agency meeting, headed by Lieutenant General Rashad Mahmood, the then Chief of General Staff, was held on February 11, 2013. During the meeting it was decided to create a new force to combat the increasing use of IEDs in terrorism incidents. Later, a March 2, 2014, media report quoting an unnamed defence official, claimed that the anti-IED Division established within the armed forces had become fully functional in multidimensional anti-IED operations in various cities and troubled areas of the country. Another unnamed senior security official disclosed, on December 15, 2018, that 22 demining teams were being formed by the Army to defuse and remove IEDs and landmines in KP and the erstwhile FATA. At the same time, comprehensive awareness campaigns were also in the process of being launched. According to the official, extra security measures had been taken at all levels and on all tiers in order to curb the incidents of IED attacks in market places, civilian gatherings and religious processions. Further in 2015, the Police School of Explosive Handling, a first of its kind, was established at Nowshera in KP, to administer different courses on explosive handling. 

According to documents shared by a military official quoted in Pakistan Forward on December 21, 2021, more than 80 teams were operating throughout the Tribal Districts to remove unexploded ordnance, including improvised explosive devices and toy bombs. At least 37 security personnel have been killed and 17 injured during the defusing process since 2018. Pakistan has one of the highest levels of casualties in the world due to landmines and explosive remnants of war. In 2017, it recorded 135 casualties, which was the highest in the world and accounted for 28 per cent of the global total. According to the Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor, Pakistan ranked seventh in the world, with a total of 4,755 such casualties between 1999 and 2018.

Though Pakistan has made efforts to fight the IED menace in its tribal areas, the terrorist continues to inflict significant harm with IEDs. As terror thrives in the country, the threat will persist.
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management