A TEENAGE suicide bomber struck a bus terminal in northwest Pakistan today, killing eight people in the sixth bomb attack in as many days to strike the country.
The bomb, apparently targeting an anti-Taliban militia leader, exploded in the small town of Jandol in the district of Lower Dir, 200km from the capital Islamabad. Pakistani troops fought a major offensive to expunge the Taliban from the area nearly two years ago.
Dir district police chief Saleem Marwat said seven civilians were killed and 18 wounded at the bus terminal, close to a car showroom, which was also damaged in the blast. Another civilian later died of his injuries. “We have found the head of the bomber. He appears to be a teenager, a 15- to 16-year-old boy,” Marwat said.
The target of the suicide attack was Malik Mohammad Akbar, head of a lashkar or tribal militia set up by the government to fight Taliban militants, residents said. Police said he died in the blast.
Akbar, 55, who had survived previous two attempts on his life, was in the car showroom run by his family members when the bomber hit. “Malik Akbar died in the blast,” Qazi Jamil ur-Rehman, the regional deputy inspector general of police confirmed. “Apparently he was the target
“It was a suicide attack. The bomber was on foot,” he said. At the car showroom, three people were among the dead and several vehicles damaged, he added. The Lower Dir administration office earlier said at least five people were killed in the town, which is close to Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal belt on the Afghan border. Washington calls the region al-Qa’ida’s global headquarters.
Doctor Wakil Khan, head of Lower Dir’s main hospital, said that 15 people had been wounded in the attack, most of them in a critical condition. And the death toll from the bombing at a Sufi shrine yesterday has risen to 50. Two suicide bombers unleashed carnage at the shrine where hundreds had gathered for a religious ceremony, officials said.
The bombers struck the shrine of 13th century Sufi saint Ahmed Sultan, popularly known as Sakhi Sarwar, in Dera Ghazi Khan district of Punjab province, about 480km southwest of Islamabad.
“We had 44 dead in our hospital. Six people died on the spot and their families took their bodies directly,” said Tariq Mehmood, an emergency ward official at Civil Hospital in Dera Ghazi Khan.
It was the deadliest suicide attack in Pakistan since a mosque bombing killed 68 people on November 5 in the northwest area of Darra Adam Khel.