Though no one took immediate credit for last week's set of explosions in Islamabad, the timing may have been explanation enough. The six nearly simultaneous blasts--at two U.S. Embassy installations and a United Nations office building--went off two days before the initiation of U.N. economic sanctions against the Taliban, the extremist religious group that rules most of Afghanistan. There was one reported injury of a Pakistani national but no deaths. The Taliban had assailed the sanctions, which the U.N. Security Council applied because the group has refused to expel Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, whom Washington accuses of masterminding last year's deadly explosions at two U.S. embassies in Africa.
Taliban leader Mohammed Omar condemned the attack and urged the U.N. and Washington "to find the real causes and pinpoint the enemy." Taking the lead, Pakistani antiterror specialists examined the four shells discharged in the attack and the identification numbers of the assailants' three vehicles. Omar and bin Laden were said to have relayed messages to the Pakistani military denying responsibility, but that did not erase them from a long list of suspects that included other exiled Arab dissidents living in Pakistan. Meanwhile, security was beefed up at American and U.N. buildings as the sanctions were to go into effect over the weekend.