Twin bombings kill 102 in Mohmand Agency

Two Taliban suicide bombers unleashed carnage in a busy market in the Mohmand tribal region on Friday.


Express/manzoor Ali July 10, 2010

PESHAWAR: Two Taliban suicide bombers unleashed carnage in a busy market in the Mohmand tribal region on Friday, killing at least 102 people including a woman and injuring over 100, burying victims under pulverised shops. Officials fear the death toll could rise further.

The attack took place outside the office of Assistant Political Agent (APA) Rasool Khan in the Yaka Ghund sub-division of Mohmand Agency, officials said. “There were two suicide bombers, one was riding on a motorbike and the other was in a car,” APA Rasool Khan told journalists. “The two detonated the explosives in quick succession,” he added.

The political agent of the agency confirmed the fatalities, saying that the target was the APA office. He added that tribal elders from the Anbar sub-division were having a jirga with APA Khan at the time of the attack. The dead included four troops of paramilitary Khasadar force and two volunteers of a local peace committee.

At least 50 houses and eight shops were also destroyed in the bombings. And sources told The Express Tribune by telephone from the region that the death toll could go up as several victims still lay buried under the rubble of the demolished structures.

The dead and the injured were shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) in Peshawar and Charsadda’s district headquarters hospital. Medics at the LRH confirmed that by Friday night they had received 91 casualties, including 82 males and four females.  Witnesses recounted horrifying scenes at the site of the attack.

“There were deafening explosions and soon afterwards security forces started firing,” Iqbal Khan, who was injured in the twin attack, told The Express Tribune from his bed in the LRH. “There was death and destruction everywhere. Mutilated bodies were scattered all around and victims were crying for help,” he added.

Another witness said he saw a pickup truck minutes before the blast. “I was sitting at a tea stall outside the office of the tehsildar when I spotted a pickup truck driving into the market,” said another injured man Ziarat Khan. “Soon afterwards there was a huge blast followed by another. I’m not sure whether it was the pickup truck or something else that exploded,” he added.

Taking advantage of the chaos following the attack, around 30 prisoners also managed to escape from a nearby prison. However, the political agent said no high-profile militant was among the escapees.

Local residents criticised the political authorities for their “slow response” to the attack. They claimed that political authorities and security forces failed to help with relief and rescue efforts and local residents had to struggle through the debris to pull out the victims.

The twin suicide attack disrupted a fragile peace in the violence-prone Mohmand Agency. And residents fear that it could spark a military operation in the region.

“The security situation remained fluid but it wasn’t that bad until Friday. I fear today’s attack could lead to a military operation in the agency,” Abdullah told The Express Tribune by the telephone from his home in Mohmand Agency.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. “The attacks were carried out by two of our suicide bombers and the target was the tribal jirga,” said Ikramullah Mohmand, the spokesperson for the Mohmand Agency chapter of the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

In Islamabad, President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the suicide attack and expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of innocent lives. In their separate messages, the two leaders reiterated their resolve not to bow to terrorists and to continue operations against militants till their elimination. They also sought a report on the incident and directed that the best possible medical care be provided to the injured.

Meanwhile, the United States has condemned the suicide bombings, saying that “such brutal acts clearly demonstrate the terrorists’ complete disregard for human life.”

In a statement issued by the US Embassy in Islamabad, a spokesman said that Washington extends its condolences to the families of victims and to the Pakistani people.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2010.

The toll has been updated according to latest figures.

COMMENTS (2)

M. | 11 years ago | Reply Inhuman.
Bunty | 11 years ago | Reply Devastation. That is all which can be said.
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