Two Mosque Bombings Kill 72 in Pakistan’s Northwest

Attacks Target Pro-Govt Tribesmen

A pair of major bombings in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtoonwhah Province killed at least 72 people today, with local Taliban calling the attacks retaliation for local tribal elders joining government-sponsored “peace committees.”

The larger of the two blasts targeted Darra Adam Khel, along the border with the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and destroyed the mosque during Friday prayers, killing at least 67 and wounding 70 others. Later, a second mosque in the Badhber town on the outskirts of Peshawar was also hit, killing five more and wounding several others.

Membership in the “peace committees” is not always voluntary for tribesmen, as in many cases the Pakistani government has demanded that tribal elders join these groups or face attacks themselves. In this way many of the tribesmen are dragged into the war either as “pro-government militias” or as targets for other such militias. It has left Pakistan’s FATA and well as tribal areas in Khyber in a state of constant civil war, even those areas which aren’t directly interdicted by military forces.

Darra Adam Khel is of particular strategic importance owing to the town’s history as a major weapons manufacturer for a number of Pashtun tribes. As most of the fighting has involved Pashtun tribesmen and attacks on Pashtun dominated areas, this has made the town of enormous strategic importance, though the independence of the Afridi tribesmen has made it impossible for either government or insurgency to dominate it completely.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.