Bazaar Bomb Claimed by Taliban Kills at Least 11 in Northwest Pakistan

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A car bomb ripped through a town bazaar in northwestern Pakistan's tribal belt on Friday, killing 11 people and wounding at least 31, local officials said. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

"People were leaving a mosque and going to the bazaar when a remote-controlled device planted in a vehicle went off," Fazl-i-Qadir, an administrator for the Orakzai tribal district, said by telephone.

A Pakistani Taliban commander in Orakzai said his operatives had planted the bomb near the bazaar in a village called Ferozkhel, local journalists reported. They quoted the commander as saying that the targets were tribal elders who had helped organize a militia to resist Taliban encroachment in the area. Several elders were among the victims in the blast.

The Pakistan Air Force has been conducting airstrikes against militant positions in the thickly forested, snow-covered mountains of nearby Upper Orakzai, part of a broader operation against Pakistani Taliban militants in the tribal belt that borders Afghanistan.

Six militants were killed and three of their bases were destroyed in the most recent of those airstrikes, a senior security official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

As part of the anti-Taliban operations, security forces had cleared Ferozkhel of militants and had allowed local tribesmen to resettle there.

Orakzai once served as the headquarters of Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, which unites several militant groups operating in the tribal belt.

The Ferozkhel blast came a week after Pakistani Taliban militants claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing near a mosque in another northwestern town, Hangu, that killed at least 26 people.

Pakistani officials also reported on Friday that an American drone fired two missiles into a compound in the Babar Mountains, on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan in the South Waziristan tribal region, killing four people and destroying a compound of the Pakistani Taliban. The identities of those killed and other details were not clear from the account by the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because American drone strikes are a politically delicate issue in Pakistan.

The country's lawless tribal regions have been a haven for the Pakistani Taliban as well as other local and foreign militants, and as a result, they have been a frequent target of Pakistani military action and American drone strikes. While Pakistan's Parliament has repeatedly demanded an end to the drone strikes, Pakistani officials privately acknowledge their effectiveness.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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