Anti-Taliban Orakzai Jirga Targetted by a Suicide Bomber
Daily Times, October 11, 2008
* 90 wounded in attack on elders gathered to raise lashkar against Taliban
* Zardari, Gilani say such attacks will not deter government’s resolve to root out terrorism
HANGU/PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD: At least 40 people were killed, while around 90 were wounded when a suicide bomber in an explosives-laden vehicle targeted an anti-Taliban jirga on Friday in Orakzai Agency.
The attack occurred in the Khadezai area of Upper Orakzai Agency where a jirga of the Ali Khel tribe was in progress, witnesses and tribal elders told Daily Times.
A witness said at least 32 people died on the spot, while more than 40 were injured in the attack, which left an eight-foot deep crater in the ground.
A local tribesman Taj Mohammad, who was injured in the blast, said a double cabin pickup ‘hit the participants of the jirga’, held after Friday prayers. He said the jirga had earlier destroyed two Taliban hideouts and fined four Taliban Rs 200,000 each.
The tribesmen, backed by authorities, were trying to raise tribal militias in Orakzai to drive out Taliban and Al Qaeda from the area, when the bomber struck.
“We were busy in raising a lashkar to evict Taliban from the region when this attack took place,” Qeemat Khan Orakzai, a jirga member told Reuters.
Kamran Zeb, a top government official in Orakzai, told Reuters “The lashkar had taken a decision to destroy militants’ headquarters in the region. Shortly afterwards, this attack took place.”
The blast occurred about 10 kilometeres from the Ghaluj tehsil, and hospital sources in Gahluj hospital said 25 dead bodies and 70 injured had been brought to the hospital.
Locals said they faced shortage of blood and ambulances and the injured were being shifted to Hangu in vans.
Hangu District Nazim Haji Afzal was supervising the relief activities in the district.
Ealier, local tribesmen destroyed three Taliban hideouts, including the houses of two Taliban commanders in the Dabori area of the agency.
The jirga, which had started its anti-Taliban operation in Dabori was to continue it in Khadezai on Friday.
Government resolve: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the suicide attack. Zardari said the terrorists were bent upon destroying peace, and such attacks would not deter the government’s resolve to root out terrorism.
Gilani said the government was determined to clamp down on terrorists with an iron hand. saboor khan/agencies
Dozens of slain anti-Taliban tribesmen mourned - AFP
Suicide bomber kills dozens at Pakistani peace meeting - Saeed Shah, Guardian
Four pro-govt tribal elders beheaded - By Anwarullah Khan, Dawn
Orakzai blast toll rises to 82 - The News - Oct 11