The death toll from twin suicide bombings in Mohmand has risen to 43, an official said Tuesday.
“Three more people died in Peshawar hospital. The death toll has now reached 43,” Miraj Khan, a senior administrative official in the town of Ghalanai, told AFP.
Most of the victims have been identified and their bodies handed over to relatives, but eight badly mutilated bodies are still in Ghalani hospital, Khan said.
“They are beyond recognition,” he said.
Updated from print edition (below)
Bloodbath in Mohmand Agency: Bombers strike anti-Taliban tribal militia
Twin suicide bombers in security forces’ uniform targeted a tribal lashkar and pro-government tribal elders in the Mohmand tribal region, killing 40 people and injuring many more.
Hours later a purported Taliban spokesperson claimed responsibility for the attack, threatening more attacks on anyone forming lashkars against them.
The bombers badly damaged the political agent’s office in Ghalanai, the main town in Mohmand Agency.
Survivor Sakhi Jan, a 50-year-old member of the tribal lashkar who suffered injuries, described how “double blasts rocked everything around”.
Amjad Ali, a senior official in the political administration, said 40 people were killed and 60 wounded, with 25 in critical condition.
The casualties were shifted to the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital in Ghalani, District Headquarters Hospital in Charsadda and Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.
Khan Zaman, who also survived the attack, said: “There was a deafening explosion. And a thick cloud of smoke enveloped the whole area.” Talking to The Express Tribune from his hospital bed, he said: “Pieces of human flesh were scattered all over and injured were crying for help.”
Ali said that the bombers were wearing uniform of the Khasadar force. “One of them blew himself up at the main gate and the second inside the office,” he said. At least 10 government officials and two television journalists, including Abdul Wahab of Express News, were among the dead.
More than 100 people were believed to have been in the political agent’s office where government officials, allied tribal elders and members of the tribal lashkar were meeting when the bombers struck.“Tribesmen and elders had been sitting in small groups on the lawn outside the office of the political agent,” said Shuja Ahmed, another lashkar volunteer.
Local official Maqsood Amin said the bombs destroyed two rooms in the office and gouged out a foot-deep crater in the lawn outside. There were divergent reports on whether at least one of the bombers blew himself up on a motorbike or whether the attackers came on foot.
This is the second suicide attack in five months targeting pro-government tribal elders in the Mohmand Agency. On July 9, a suicide car bomb attack killed 105 people in Yakaghund tehsil of the agency.
Umar Khalid, a spokesperson for the Mohmand Agency chapter of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility in a telephone call to The Express Tribune from an undisclosed location.
“Our two suicide bombers targeted people who were working against the Taliban,” Khalid said. “Those who will work against us and raise lashkars will be targeted. “Our war is to enforce Sharia and anyone who hinders us in any way or takes sides with America will meet the same fate,” Khalid said.
(Agencies with additional reporting by Umair Muhammadzai in Peshawar)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2010.