Twin Pak­istani blasts kill at least 62 peo­ple, in­jure about 110 more

Austin American-Statesman - - SATURDAYBRIEFING - By Alex Ro­driguez and Zul­fiqar Ali

PESHAWAR, Pak­istan — A pair of sui­cide bomb blasts tore through a busy mar­ket in a volatile tribal re­gion of Pak­istan on Fri­day, killing more than 60 peo­ple in an at­tack that il­lus­trated the Tal­iban’s con­tin­ued strength de­spite sev­eral re­cent mil­i­tary of­fen­sives against the in­sur­gents.

The twin ex­plo­sions took place within sec­onds of each other in the vil­lage of Yak­aghund, out­side the of­fices of a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tor for the Mohmand tribal re­gion, po­lice said. At least 62 peo­ple died and at least 111 oth­ers were in­jured. Au­thor­i­ties said one of the bombers was on a mo­tor­cy­cle, while the other det­o­nated a Toy­ota Corolla sedan filled with ex­plo­sives.

The in­tended tar­get re­mained un­clear. A large crowd lin­ing up for new na­tional iden­tity cards had gath­ered at govern­ment of­fices in Yak­aghund’s main bazaar, and the bazaar it­self was filled with mid­morn­ing cus­tomers. Govern­ment of­fices and bustling mar­kets have of­ten been tar­geted in Tal­iban sui­cide bomb attacks.

How­ever, Pak­istani tele­vi­sion re­ported that mem­bers of a lo­cal anti-Tal­iban tribal mili­tia had been meet­ing in the vicin­ity when the blast oc­curred and might have been the in­tended tar­get.

Pak­istan’s Dawn news­pa­per re­ported that the Tal­iban had taken re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack.

Mu­nir Khan, a shop­keeper at the mar­ket, said his store was just a few yards from the blast site.

“It was a huge blast, and there was to­tal de­struc­tion ev­ery­where,” Khan said. “I saw in­jured peo­ple on the ground and dead bod­ies burned be­yond recog­ni­tion.”

TV footage of the blast site showed vil­lagers with shov­els scour­ing for sur­vivors and re­mains amid a wide swath of de­stroyed store­fronts and of­fices. The ex­plo­sion left a 5foot-wide, 4-foot-deep crater in the road.

About 70 to 80 shops were dam­aged or de­stroyed, while dam­age to a nearby prison al­lowed 28 pris­on­ers — or­di­nary crim­i­nals, not mil­i­tants — to flee, said Ra­sool Khan, the Mohmand ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Mohmand is one of sev­eral tribal re­gions along the Pak­istani-Afghan border where Tal­iban and al Qaeda mil­i­tants con­tinue to seek sanc­tu­ary.

The Pak­istani army has launched of­fen­sives in sev­eral parts of north­west Pak­istan — in­clud­ing the Swat Val­ley, South Waziris­tan, Ba­jaur, Orakzai and Khy­ber — in an at­tempt to up­root the in­sur­gency and put an end to a wave of Tal­iban-en­gi­neered sui­cide bomb attacks and other ter­ror­ism acts that have rav­aged the coun­try in re­cent years.

The of­fen­sives, how­ever, have failed to dis­man­tle the in­sur­gency. The move­ment’s top lead­ers re­main ac­tive, and many mil­i­tants were able to flee the of­fen­sives well in ad­vance and find refuge in other parts of the tribal re­gion.

Mo­ham­mad Sa­j­jad As­so­Ci­ATeD PRess

Pak­ista­nis check the rub­ble in Yak­aghund left Fri­day by a pair of sui­cide bomb­ings that dev­as­tated the town’s main bazaar.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.