A suicide bombing targeting a renegade Taliban commander has killed a dozen people, including children, and injured another 18 in the Speen Thal area of Orakzai tribal agency.
A suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden vehicle into a compound belonging to Mullah Nabi Hanfi before midday on Saturday in Buland Khel village of Speen Thal, some 70 kilometres west of Hangu district, according to a paramilitary official.
At least 12 people, among them three children – Nadia, 6, Naila, 7, and Naema, 9 – were killed and 18 were wounded in the attack. Four houses were damaged.
Mullah Nabi Hanfi was a commander of the Hangu chapter of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) before switching sides and joining the government’s counter-insurgency efforts. Hanfi lives in the Speen Thal area of the neighbouring Orakzai Agency.
The TTP claimed responsibility for the bombing and said the target was Mullah Nabi. “We sent the suicide bomber to target Mullah Nabi and his aides. We will carry out more such attacks,” the group’s spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan told journalists by phone from an undisclosed location.
On Thursday, an aide to Maulvi Gul Zaman, a TTP commander in Orakzai Agency, was killed and another wounded by members of Nabi Hanfi’s peace militia in the Hayatabad area of Hangu. Saturday’s bombing could be in retaliation for the killing.
Mullah Nabi, however, escaped unhurt in the attack. He told journalists that he would not be cowed down by such attacks.
“Mullah Nabi was not present in the compound at the time of the attack,” added an official of the local political administration.
The vehicle used in the bombing had entered Orakzai from the neighbouring North Waziristan tribal district.
After the bombing, local residents pulled out the casualties from the rubble of the damaged houses and drove them to the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital in Thall. Medics said four of the injured are in a precarious condition.
Four people were killed and six others injured when a passenger vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the Shart Kas area of Shiringal tehsil, security officials said.
The van was en route to Shiringal bus terminal from the Doog Darra area when it hit an improvised explosive device planted by the roadside, Bashir Khan, SHO at Shiringal police station, told The Express Tribune.
“Four people, including the driver, were killed on the spot and six were wounded,” he added. Local residents and police ferried the casualties to the District Headquarters Hospital where doctors said two of the injured were in a critical condition.
Taliban claim responsibility
The Malakand chapter of TTP admitted it carried out the attack in reprisal for an anti-Taliban militia that was formed by the residents of Dogh Darra.
Another police official said the bomb weighed around seven kilogrammes.
(With additional reporting by our correspondents in Upper Dir and Peshawar)
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.