A Taliban suicide bomber has killed 65 people and wounded more than 100 in an attack on a government official’s office in northwestern Pakistan.
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has taken credit for the deadly blast that took place outside the office of the deputy political agent of the tribal agency of Mohmand. In the attack, an adjoining jail was demolished and as many as 25 prisoners were freed, including four militants, according to The Washington Post.
The attack also appears to have been designed to maximize civilian casualties. A number of elders were gathered in anticipation of a meeting with the assistant political agent for the area, The New York Times reports. There were two blasts, first a smaller one and then the larger suicide attack that killed and wounded the civilians, Dawn News reported. In the blasts, more than 70 shops were also destroyed, The New York Times stated.
Today’s suicide attack is the second major attack inside Pakistan in one week. On July 1, three suicide bombers detonated among a crowd of people at a Sufi shrine in Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab. More than 40 people were killed in the deadly attack. The Taliban denied that it carried out the Lahore attack.
The Taliban have remained active in Mohmand despite the Pakistani military’s claims that the group was driven from the tribal agency in the spring of 2009.
Omar Khalid is the Taliban’s commander in Mohmand and is a top deputy of Hakeemullah Mehsud. Khalid is considered one of the most effective and powerful leaders in the tribal areas after Hakeemullah and Faqir.
Khalid gained prominence in Mohmand during the summer of 2007 when he took over a famous shrine and renamed it the Red Mosque, after the radical mosque in Islamabad whose followers had attempted to impose sharia in the capital. He became the dominant Taliban commander in Mohmand in July 2008 after defeating the Shah Sahib group, a rival pro-Taliban terror outfit with ties to the Lashkar-e-Taiba. During the summer of 2008, Khalid declared sharia in Mohmand.
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