The Taliban killed 19 people, including government employees and civilians, in an attack today on a bus in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. From Dawn:
A bomb blast ripped through a bus on Friday, killing 19 people, including seven women and a child, on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, police said.
More than 40 others were wounded in the attack on a bus rented by the government to take staff home after work in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
It was the deadliest attack in months on Peshawar, which has long been a flashpoint for a local Taliban insurgency targeting government officials, security forces and ordinary civilians.
The city runs into the semi-autonomous tribal belt that US officials consider a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and insurgents fighting both in Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistan.
The explosion went off in the Daudzai area, killing government employees and other private passengers riding the same bus, officials said.
“The bomb was planted under the bus,” provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told reporters.
The Taliban claimed credit for the attack, according to a Tweet by Evan Kohlmann, who tracks jihadist statements:
The Pakistani Taliban (TTP) has claimed credit for an IED attack on a Pak Interior Ministry convoy in Peshawar, killing 19 and wounding 42.
While the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistani (TTP) has reduced the number of its attacks in Peshawar over the past year, the al Qaeda-linked terror group remains active in the district. The Taliban have been battling tribal militias in Peshawar. Two weeks ago, a tribal militia operating in the district quit the fight against the Taliban, citing lack of government support. The militia leader accused the government of confiscating their weapons. From Dawn:
The Adezai anti-militant lashkar (militia), who had been fighting militancy along the borders of tribal regions Darra Adamkhel and Khyber Agency, was dissolved on Thursday [May 24].
“The continued lack of support from the government and refusal to provide assistance that was promised to the volunteers has forced the lashkar to quit,” Chief of the Adezai Peace Committee Dilawar Khan told reporters.
“The government has withdrawn its support to the strong force of more than 5,000 volunteers, who had been at the forefront in the fight against insurgency in the area,” Khan said.
Khan claimed that the militia had lost at least 105 men in their anti-Taliban fight, while over 50 volunteers had been injured.
“We had supported law-enforcement agencies in rooting out militancy from Adezai, Mattani, Kalakhel up until Dara Adamkhel, and were also involved in stopping militant onslaught on Peshawar, but the government has turned its back on us,” the group’s chief said.
According to Khan, since the volunteers from these tribal regions picked up arms against the Taliban, they are threatened by the militants.
The government, he said, had taken back the weapons provided to the militia.