Dozens of people have been killed and over a hundred wounded in a suicide and suspected car bomb attack in Pakistan's tribal region of Mohmand, bordering Afghanistan.
People carry an injured person from the spot of the bombing in Yakaghund
The attackers struck near Yakaghund, a town in the Mohmand agency, one of seven regions that make up Pakistan's tribal belt. Local officials said there were two attacks, as Shams Momand of Samaa TV in Peshawar told Deutsche Welle:
"According to official sources one person riding a motor bike blew himself up near the security barrier, and just after few seconds another huge blast was heard. More than 50 shops and six houses were destroyed in this attack."
The attacks took place after residents had gathered around the office of a local government official, Rasool Khan. Khan, who was in the office at that time, was unhurt.
People with severe injuries have been sent to hospitals in neighboring Peshawar
Most victims were local civilians
Among the victims were several internally displaced people. They were attending a function to collect wheelchairs and other relief goods at the local office.
"The victims are local people belonging to different tribes," said Shams Momand. "Four were security personnel who were on duty and eight members of one family were killed and there are many kids and women who were killed."
All in all over 50 people are believed to have died and over 100 have been injured. Rescue workers dug through the debris with their bare hands to pull out the bodies from collapsed buildings. The wounded people are being treated in local hospitals. Some of those heavily injured have been shifted to hospitals in Peshawar, the capital of the neighboring province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Pakistani security forces have intensified their operations against the militants
'Militants are trying to once again control the area'
Local officials said the explosion also destroyed parts of a nearby prison and allowed some 30 prisoners to flee. Those who escaped were charged with petty offenses, they added. Though no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, suspicion has clearly fallen on the Islamist militants.
Pakistani security forces have carried out several operations against Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants in Mohmand and neighboring areas in recent years. Hundreds of rebels have been killed in the offensives.
"Two years ago these militants were very powerful in the area. Now in the last one and half year, the regular military operations have weakened the militants. So they are trying to control the area once again and are clashing with security agencies," says Shams Momand.
The recent rise in violence has once again put pressure on the Pakistani government to take decisive action against militancy. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has recently called for a landmark national conference to develop a strategy to counter the threat of terrorism.
Author: Disha Uppal
Editor: Grahame Lucas