PESHAWAR – A suicide bomber in a car blew himself up at a crowded market in Darra Adam Khel Frontier Region Kohat on Saturday morning, killing at least 18 people and injuring 32 others. Two dozen shops were also destroyed in the blast.
Packed with explosives, a pick-up vehicle parked on a roadside at Janan Market in Darra Adam Khel Bazaar exploded at about 10:30 am with a bang when people were busy in routine shopping.
Besides, five vehicles parked at the blast site were also damaged. Darra Adam Khel is known for arms manufacturing worldwide.
Local administration confirmed 18 people were killed and 32 injured in attack. Five injured, two of them children, were in critical condition. The wounded were taken to Lady Reading Hospital for treatment. A local hospital at Darra Adam Khel received eight dead bodies while seven others succumbed to their wounds at LRH.
Blast formed a huge crater at the site. It has also been learnt that mainly pro-government peace committee members were targeted by the attacker. However, local administration officials, when contacted, did not confirm the same.
The Assistant Political Agent FR Kohat, Fakhruddin, said it was not a suicide attack, it was a car bomb blast at the market. He said death toll might go up. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Darra Adam Khel spokesperson Mohammad Afridi, in a telephone call from a location not specified, said the group had nothing to do with the explosion. “Innocent people were killed. TTP condoles with the families. TTP do not target marketplaces,” Afridi said. Security forces cordoned off the area after the blast and launched a search operation. No arrest was made till filing of this report.
The dead were identified as Rais Khan, Jehangir, Nazir Hussain, Shakeel, Shabir and Azmat Ali. Names of other dead persons could not be ascertained. Those injured were Akhtar Ayub, M.Khalil, Sang-e-Fares, M Umer, M Tahir, Ibrar, Jan Khan, Sakhi, Wakel, Adnan, Wazir Gul, Amir Sohail, Ismail, Umer, Jamshed, Momin, Sirajudin, Gulab Sher, Khanan, Kifayatullah, Sahir Khan, Yar Bibi and Abubakar.
Meanwhile, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Barrister Masood Kausar, strongly condemned the bomb attack at Darra Adam Khel and expressed his deep shock and sorrow over the loss of precious lives. The governor described it a worst act of crime and said the elements involved would be brought to justice. The governor also directed the concerned authorities for best available treatment facilities to the injured for their early recovery. The governor has also taken a strong exception of the tragic incident and said the government could never be cowed down by such attacks and it would continue fight militancy to ensure peace and normalcy in the area.
Agencies add: The blast ripped through the main market in Darra Adam Khel near to a local anti-insurgent peace committee office, which officials said was the target of the attack.
A local government official Fakharuddin told AFP that it was not immediately clear how many peace committee members were killed or wounded because the bombing occurred in a crowded street and many shoppers were victims.
Information minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mian Iftikhar Hussain said: “It was a suicide attack and the target was the local peace committee.”
Two other officials confirmed the bombing and the death toll and said some of the wounded were shifted to other cities for treatment as local health facilities were not sufficient.
Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the officials said.
The peace committee comprised a breakaway group of former militants who ditched their Taliban colleagues and formed a militia supporting local elders and government efforts against militancy, a local intelligence official said.
Pakistan’s military, one of the biggest in the world, has launched several offensives against the Taliban and other militant groups seeking to topple the US-backed government.
But the operations, which have focused on Taliban strongholds in the unruly ethnic Pashtun tribal belt along the border with Afghanistan, failed to annihilate them completely.
That is one reason why the government began encouraging tribesmen to revive traditional militias to take on the Taliban and rally their community behind the state.
But those militias frequently come under attack by the Taliban and the militia drive has had limited success.
The bombing destroyed 15 shops and eight vehicles, said senior regional government official Sahibzada Anees.
Darra suicide attack kills 18