Anti-Taliban commander assassinated in Buner
Fateh Khan's destroyed vehicle shortly after a suspected suicide bomber traveling on a motorcycle attacked Khan and his entourage at a gas station in Buner, Pakistan. Photo courtesy of the Nation.
A suspected suicide bomber assassinated Fateh Khan, the head of a local Aman Lashkar (peace force) cadre opposed to Islamist militants, as he and his convoy left a gas station in northwestern Pakistan today. Three of Khan's bodyguards and two passersby were also killed in the attack, which occurred in the restive area of Buner, some 150 kilometers northeast of Peshawar. The blast also injured five other civilians. Witnesses claimed that a man on a motorcycle slammed into Khan's sports utility vehicle as it was pulling away from a gas station, which caused a huge explosion.
Khan was actively opposed to Islamic militants, and had played a leading role in trying to keep the Swat Taliban out of Buner in 2009, according to Dawn. At the time of his death, Khan was also serving as a district level political leader. Khan had recently joined the Qaumi Watan Party, although he was associated with the secular Awami National Party, the Express Tribune reported.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the attack, telling Dawn that the TTP had targeted Fateh Khan for "leading armed resistance against the extremist militant group." Interestingly, Ehsan claimed the suicide bomber had conducted the attack on foot, which contradicts accounts of the attack given by local police and eyewitnesses.
Photographs taken shortly after the attack clearly show a smashed motorcycle near the front of Khan's badly damaged SUV.
Since 2007, both ANP politicians and Aman Lashkar elements have been the targets of suicide attacks, most of which have been attributed to the TTP and Lashkar-e-Islam. In June of this year, Geo News reported that the bullet-riddled corpse of Fahimuddin, Aman Lashkar commander of a 1,500-man force, was found on the outskirts of Peshawar along with those of three of his associates. Two of his bodyguards had been killed in a suicide attack on his vehicle two weeks before.