Pakistan suicide bombing death toll jumps to 102
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) – The death toll from twin suicide bombings in Pakistan jumped to 102 with 115 people wounded on Saturday, making it the deadliest attack this year in the country.
Authorities continued to remove debris from the site of the attack in the village of Yakaghund in a northwest tribal region, after two bombers struck seconds apart Friday near a government office.
One of the bombs appeared fairly small but the other was huge, officials said. At least one bomber was on a motorcycle.
The attackers detonated their explosives near the office of Rasool Khan, a deputy Mohmand administrator who escaped unharmed. Tribal elders, including those involved in setting up militias to fight the Taliban, were in the building, but none was hurt, according to Mohmand chief administrator Amjad Ali Khan.
Video footage showed dozens of men searching through piles of yellow brick and mud rubble for survivors. Women and children were among the victims.
Mohmand is one of several areas in Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt where Taliban and al-Qaida members are believed to be hiding.
Abdul Wadood, 19, was sitting in a vehicle at the time of the bombings.
“I only heard the deafening blast and lost consciousness,” said Wadood, who was being treated for head and arm wounds in Peshawar, the main city in the northwest, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) away. “I found myself on a hospital bed after opening my eyes. I think those who planned or carried out this attack are not humans.”
Some 70 to 80 shops were damaged or destroyed, while damage to a prison building allowed 28 prisoners – ordinary criminals, not militants – to flee, said Rasool Khan, who gave the casualty figures.
Friday’s was the deadliest attack this year in Pakistan. On New Year’s Day, a suicide car bomber struck a sports event near a meeting of tribesmen who supervise an anti-Taliban militia near the South Waziristan tribal area, killing 96 people.
Near the attack site, officials had been distributing wheelchairs Friday to disabled people and equipment to poor farmers, Amjad Ali Khan said. It was unclear how many participants in that event were among the victims.
Pakistani Taliban spokesmen could not be immediately reached after the attack. There were scattered reports the militant group’s branch in Mohmand had claimed responsibility and said it was targeting the elders.
The Pakistani army has carried out operations in Mohmand, but it has been unable to extirpate the militants. Its efforts to rely on citizen militias to take on the militants have had limited success there.
Nevertheless, there have been fewer attacks in Pakistan this year than in previous years – most notably in the northwest. In the last three months of 2009, more than 500 people were killed in a surge of attacks in the country.