A bomb ripped through a passenger van in the Orakzai tribal agency on Wednesday, killing 13 tribesmen of the same clan in an attack apparently motivated by sectarian hatred.
“It was a remote-controlled bomb planted on the road. The device exploded near the pick-up van that was en route to Kohat from Lower Orakzai,” Zakir Hussain, a political administration official told AFP.
“The van was targeted in the Babab Masai area soon after daybreak,” Syed Noman Ali Shah, another administration official, told The Express Tribune.
A dozen people died on the spot and another two received shrapnel wounds, the official added. The injured were driven to Kohat’s divisional hospital, but one of them was pronounced dead on arrival.
“We referred the second injured person to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar due to his precarious condition,” Dr Farid, the in-charge of the hospital, told The Express Tribune.
Three women, two 11-year-old boys and a three-year-old girl were among the dead, according to Zakir Hussain.
The victims belonged to the Baba Nawasi Khel, a Shia sub-clan of the Sipah tribe, said the official who spoke to The Express Tribune.
Zakir Hussain also confirmed sectarian affiliation of the victims, but ruled out a sectarian motive because the blast took place in a Shia-dominated area.
“It was a militant attack, the aim was to create panic in the area by killing ordinary people,” he added.
The powerful blast turned the van into a mangled heap of metal. Explosives experts said the device weighed around 10 kilogrammes.
The Darra Adam Khel chapter of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the bomb attack.
“We will carry out more such attacks,” the group’s spokesperson, identifying himself as Muhammad, told Hangu-based journalists in a phone call from an undisclosed location.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti denounced the blast and expressed grief over the loss of lives. He called upon the people to unite and thwart the ‘evil designs’ of anti-state elements.
“These elements have no religion,” he said in a statement and offered condolences to the bereaved families.
Orakzai is one of seven agencies in the tribal belt that is home to Taliban insurgents and their al Qaeda cohorts.
(With additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2012.
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