A suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into a car carrying a pro-government tribal elder and at least three other people today, killing them in the latest explosion to rock Pakistan’s militant-riddled north-west, officials said.
The attack occurred in Baka Khel, an area just outside the lawless regions along the Afghan border where the Pakistani military has been battling Taliban and al-Qaida fighters.
The target appeared to be Maulvi Abdul Hakim, a tribal leader who was instrumental in allowing security forces to pass through the area and gain access to the North Waziristan tribal region, a paramilitary official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media. He said at least five people died. However, police officer Iqbal Marwat put the death toll at four, and confirmed Mr Hakim was among them.
Pakistan’s military has been carrying out operations in South Waziristan, and taking some limited actions against militants in North Waziristan over the last several months. The Waziristans are home to several Taliban and other militant factions – which has also made them a favourite target for US missile strikes.
The US has applauded Pakistan’s efforts to crack down on militants on its soil, many of whom are alleged to use Pakistan as a hideout from which to plan attacks on American and Nato troops in Afghanistan.
However, Pakistan’s efforts have met with Taliban retaliation.
On Saturday, 22 people were killed in parts of Pakistan’s north-west not far from the tribal belt, including 11 in Peshawar, the north-west’s main city. The attacks came just days after a top Taliban militant, Qari Hussain Mehsud, warned that the militants would ramp up suicide attacks if the military did not stop operations against them.
The Taliban took responsibility for one of the Saturday attacks – one that killed 11 people in the Bannu area.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for today’s suicide car bombing.