By Amjad Ali
Islamabad, Apr 27 (EFE).- The suicide bomber who detonated her explosives as a van carrying Chinese teachers passed the main gate of Karachi University on Tuesday afternoon has sent alarm bells ringing in Pakistan, not only because the attacker targeted foreigners, but because she had a university degree and was a mother of two children.
Shari Baloch, a secondary school science teacher, had a Masters in zoology from the University of Balochistan and was studying for a further degree in education before blowing herself up.
Three Chinese teachers and one Pakistani were killed and four others including were injured in Tuesday’s attack, the first by a woman to be claimed by the Baluchi Liberation Army separatists.
The case highlights the growing number of middle-class and highly educated people, both men and women, who have recently joined the BLA.
“Chinese economic expansion in the province, which was expected to uplift Balochistan, has only added to their woes mainly because of the central government’s failure to share the dividends of multi-billion dollar projects with the people of Balochistan,” Khuram Iqbal, a counter-terrorism expert told Efe.
The BLA has had women in its ranks since two of them participated in the planting of a bomb in the city of Lahore in 2008.
Although this is the first time a BLA female suicide bomber to carry out an attack, Pakistan is familiar with the phenomenon and the first such documented case dates back to 2000.
“It remains to be seen whether this was an isolated incident or beginning of a new trend,” Iqbal added.
Historically, Islamist organizations such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or Al Qaeda have used women in their suicide attacks, albeit in small numbers.
But ethnic groups such as the BLA have not carried out suicide attacks perpetrated by women – until now.
The BLA, which fights for the independence of Balochistan, considered the attack to be “a new chapter to the Baloch resistance history”.
“The mother of two children, eight year old Mahrosh and four year old Meer Hassan, sacrificed herself for a better future of Baloch nation,” the separatists said in a statement.
Shari, 30, joined Majeed Brigade, a unit of BLA, two years ago and “voluntarily signed up for the self-sacrificing mission,” BLA said. “(She) did not let her motherhood to become a hurdle in performing her national duty.”
The armed group claims they have “hundreds of highly trained male and female” future suicide bombers who are ready to carry out deadly attacks.
Her husband, Habitan Bashir Baloch, took to Twitter to express his pride: “Shari Jan (my life), your selfless act has left me speechless but I am also beaming with pride today”.
This attack occurred amid an escalation of insurgent violence in Pakistan, which especially affects this southwestern province, the largest in the country, and known for its wealth of natural resources. EFE