The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan bombed the headquarters of an anti-Taliban militia in Darra Adam Khel today, killing at least 17 people. From Dawn:
The explosives-laden car was parked near the office of one of anti-Taliban peace committees that have been formed by local elders trying to rid the area of militants, regional government administrator Fakhruddin Khan said.
It was unclear how many people were in the office at the time, but Khan said those killed included tribal elders and passers-by. He said 40 people also were wounded and the attack destroyed 35 shops and eight vehicles.
Daily Times reported that 18 people were killed in the blast, and said the group that was targeted is “comprised [of] a breakaway group of former militants who ditched their Taliban colleagues and formed a militia supporting local elders and government efforts against militancy.”
The Commander Tariq Afridi Group, a Taliban group which is based in Darra Adam Khel and operates in Arakzai, Khyber, Peshawar, Kohat, and Hangu, likely carried out today’s bombing.
As noted in 2008 and 2009, the Pakistani government provides only minimal support for anti-Taliban militias operating in the northwest. [See LWJ reports, Pakistan engages the tribes in effort to fight the Taliban, from September 2008; and Anti-Taliban tribal militia leader assassinated in Pakistan’s northwest, from July 2009.]
Little has changed since those reports. Despite Pakistani military operations in the tribal areas, the Taliban still maintain an advantage over the militias due to the government’s lack of material support for the militias, poor to non-existent coordination with security forces, and the absence of an integrated support network between the militias.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have continued to ruthlessly attack the anti-Taliban militias throughout the tribal agencies and the settled districts in the northwest. Militia leaders are routinely targeted for assassination.