Eight suicide bombers wearing Afghan Army uniforms and driving Afghan National Army vehicles launched a complex attack on a government compound in the western province of Farah where more than a dozen Taliban prisoners were being transferred to court for trial on Wednesday, taking several people hostage in one of the buildings, and killing at least six civilians in the ensuing firefight (NYT, AP, AFP, Reuters, BBC, CNN, Post). The attack began when two of the bombers detonated their explosives inside of a vehicle at the entrance to the compound, after which the other attackers jumped out of another vehicle and stormed the buildings, taking over the second floor of the provincial court building and continuing to fight off security forces there through Wednesday afternoon.
The attack in Farah coincided with the return of Asadullah Khalid, head of Afghanistan's intelligence agency, to Kabul on Wednesday morning, after spending months in the United States recovering from an assassination attempt (WSJ).
The outgoing Pakistan People's Party (PPP) called off a major political rally in Islamabad on Tuesday in response to threats from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and recent attacks targeting secular political figures around the country (AFP, The News). A PPP spokesman said a public rally scheduled for April 4, the anniversary of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's death, would be cancelled and replaced by smaller, district-level meetings that will be open only to state media.
A survey conducted by the British Council in Pakistan has found that 94 percent of 18-29 year-old Pakistanis think their country is going in the wrong direction, with 71 percent holding an unfavorable view of the government and 67 percent holding an unfavorable view of the parliament (Guardian). By contrast, 77 percent indicated their approval of the Army, and 74 percent approved of religious organizations. Only 29 percent thought democracy was the right system for Pakistan, with 38 percent preferring Shari'a law.
-- Jennifer Rowland