A suicide bomber attacked a tribal jirga earlier today in Pakistan’s restive Bajaur Agency, killing 22 and wounding over 100 including the tribal head who convened the meeting. The jirga was discussing how to deal with the growing militancy in the region, which has been beset by a Pakistani military offensive for several months.
Elders at the jirga were reportedly also considering the forming of a lashkar, a tribal militia, to fight against the militants. Pakistan’s government has been pressuring the tribals in their border agencies to take up arms against militants, and has even offered weapons to some lashkars willing to fight.
Credit for the attack has been claimed by the Karwan-e Niamatullah, a group which splinter off of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), The TTP has been the primary target of the Bajaur offensive, which has killed over 1,000 militants and an unknown number of civilians (claimed as 1,500 by an opposition figure), while creating an enormous humanitarian crisis in Pakistan’s smallest agency. The TTP has also repeatedly offered peace in return for an end to the offensive, but has thus far been rebuffed by the Pakistani government.