In what may well be the deadliest single incident of violence against civilians in the Tirah Valley in nearly 400 years, Pakistani military jets bombed a village in the Jamrud Tehsil of the Khyber Agency portion of the valley, killing at least 70 civilians and wounding some 50 others.
Pakistani military officials were quick to deny the toll, and claimed in the state media that they were targeting “militants” who were massing to attack a military checkpoint.
But local officials said the real story, as it so often is in Pakistan’s tribal areas, was quite different. They reported that the jets bombed a home in the village, killing three children and two women who were inside, and laborers working on a nearby water channel massed in an attempt to rescue anyone who might be trapped inside.
This was when the bulk of the casualties occured, including one of the tribal elders of the region, as the jets came back and bombarded the rescuers, killing and injuring a large number of them. The house that was initially attacked belonged to a member of the Pakistani Army, who expressed “surprise” to learn that his house had been bombed and then dismissed as a “militant hideout.”