PESHAWAR - At least 13 people were killed and another 13 wounded Monday in bomb explosions and a gun attack in restive northwestern parts of the country, officials said.
The deadliest incident came in Khyber Agency where an explosion, believed to be accidental in nature, at the home of a tribal leader killed 10 people and injured another nine.
The blast came in a remote village of the tribal district, close to the Afghan border in Tirah Valley, which last year saw fierce fighting between the Pakistani military and Taliban militants.
“The initial information suggests that the blast triggered by explosives killed at least 10 people including three children and wounded nine others,” senior local administration official Nasir Khan told AFP. He said the explosion occurred in the reception area of the home of local tribal elder Hakim Khan.
“We are trying to ascertain the exact nature of the blast,” Khan said but added that it appeared to be triggered accidentally, as most homes in the tribal belt store arms and explosives inside. “There were explosives and mortars in Hakim Khan’s house which exploded and caused the damage and casualties and it is not clear if he had any affiliation with any militant group,” Khan said.
“Three children were also among the dead, but we do not know their ages yet and two seriously wounded men are being moved to nearby city of Peshawar for treatment,” he added. Another local administration official confirmed the incident and casualties.
In Peshawar city, two security personnel were killed and three others injured in two separate terror attacks on Monday. Police said that the first incident occurred at Kohat Road where unidentified armed motorcyclists opened indiscriminate fire at the Naseerullah Babar Hospital, killing a policeman deputed at the hospital entrance. The assailants fled the scene after the attack.
The attacked cop, identified as Munsif Ali son of Gohar, was taken to Lady Reading Hospital but he succumbed to injuries on the way. He was a resident of Badhabera Masho Khail area and his funeral prayer was offered at Peshawar Police Line by a large number of police officials. Heavy contingent of police placing strict cordoning off launched a search operation but no arrest could be made.
Another policeman was killed and three passers-by sustained injuries when a remote-controlled blast hit a police van in Regi area in Peshawar outskirts. Police said the mobile of Nasir Bagh Police Station was on routine patrol when it was hit by the bomb in Model Town area. The killed cop was identified as Haroon while the injured were Hikmat, Manzoor and Azam. The blast badly damaged the police vehicle. After the explosion, people rushed towards the site to retrieve the injured persons from the vehicle. They were shifted to Hayatabad Medical Complex.
In nearby Hangu district, a student was killed and two others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself outside a government school here on Monday. The incident happened in the Shia-dominated Ibrahimzai area of Hangu district. Defunct Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed the responsibility for the attack.
“A suicide bomber blew himself up near the main gate of a government boys school, killing a student aged 14,” district police chief Iftikhar Ahmad told media. Police said that suicide bomber was aged between 20 to 25 years and reached the area through a passenger coach.
The attacker detonated his explosives as students were disembarking from a school van. As a result, two other students too sustained injuries while the explosion also damaged the gate of the school. Iftikhar Ahmad said the deceased boy had sustained serious injuries and was taken to hospital where he died. The security personnel blocked the GT Road to all kinds of traffic after the suicide bombing and started search operation in the area.
In another incident, a government girl’s school was blown up by unknown militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bannu district. Police said that terrorists had planted two bombs near the primary school located in Hawaid area of Bannu which went off with big bang. The school building was razed to the ground in the explosions but no causalities were reported as no one was present in building and it was situated away from residential area.
The Taliban have blown up hundreds of schools, especially those of girls, as part of a campaign against secular education in northwest Pakistan in recent years. Hangu borders Orakzai tribal region, one of Pakistan’s seven tribal districts on the Afghan border considered to be the hub of Taliban and al-Qaeda linked militants. The district also has a history of sectarian violence and was declared a ‘sensitive region’ during the month of Muharram.
Pakistani troops have been fighting for years against homegrown insurgents in the tribal belt. As part of state efforts to flush out terrorists from the tribal districts, the military had embarked on a concerted military push in Tirah Valley, which is hemmed in by steep mountains and riddled with caves, and has been a stronghold for militants in Khyber. The armed forces targeted Taliban and Lashkar-e-Islam militia fighters who were beginning to threaten the nearby city of Peshawar.Khyber straddles the Nato supply line into Afghanistan, used by US-led troops to evacuate military equipment as they withdraw by the end of this year. Thousands fled the fighting in Khyber district in the early months of last year, according to aid groups, though by June the army said it had taken control of all the key strategic heights.