Helicopter gunships belonging to the Pakistani military launched an attack on two buildings in Upper Orakzai Agency today, killing at least 37 militants and causing damage to the compounds. The militants were reportedly linked to the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). A statement from the Frontier Corps claimed that at least 12 of those killed were “would-be suicide bombers,” and that two commanders were among the dead.
Meanwhile, the toll of Friday’s bombing of a tribal jirga in Orakzai has risen to 110 killed and 125 injured. Senior government officials say they have struggled to provide exact data on the incident, since most of the slain tribesmen were transferred directly to their homes by family members. As of yet, no group has taken responsibility for the attack.
The jirga was organized to discuss forming a lashkar, or tribal militia, to fight against militants in the area. Last weekend a jirga in the agency determined that all outsiders would be barred from the area, and tribesmen reportedly launched attacks on the militants ahead of the blast.
Jamaat-e-Islami party leader Qazi Hussain Ahmad gave a press conference today cautioning against the formation of such militias, warning they would result “in further bloodshed” and might push the country toward civil war. The Jamaat-e-Islami has been an influential opposition party in the past, though they boycotted the 2008 elections after then-President Pervez Musharraf declared of state of emergency. Ahmad also condemned the government’s offensives in the tribal area, urging instead that they restart peace talks with the Taliban.