A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden vehicle plowed into a crowd at a massive tribal jirga in Pakistan’s Orakzai Agency, killing at least 44 and injuring over 100 others. The jirga was attended by between 500 and 2,000 tribesmen, and was discussing forming a tribal militia to combat terrorists in the area.
A previous jirga held this weekend in Orakzai decided to bar all “outsiders” from the area and threatened to kill any locals found to be harboring outsiders and set their houses on fire. Some of the militants reportedly fled the area after the announcement. The AFP also cites an anonymous Pakistani security official who says that “tribesmen blew up two hideouts of the militants a day earlier and it is possible this attack was in revenge for their actions.”
The attack was publicly denounced by several major Pakistani officials. Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar urged the populace to get behind the government’s counter terrorism operations in the wake of the attack. The agency is part of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas and lies roughly halfway between Bajaur Agency and North Waziristan. Though violence has not been as widespread in Orakzai as it has in some other portions of the FATA, recent conflicts with the Pakistani military had Taliban in the area vowing revenge.