Twin Pakistani blasts kill at least 62 people, injure about 110 more
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.
Pakistanis check the rubble in Yakaghund left Friday by a pair of suicide bombings that devastated the town’s main bazaar.