At least 67 people were killed and 70 others wounded today when a suicide bomber struck the main Sunni mosque in Darra Adam Khel, a Pashtun town along the border between the Khyber-Pakhtoonwhah Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Five others died and several more were wounded in an attack on a second mosque in Badhber.
A local Taliban faction claimed credit for the blast shortly thereafter, saying it was retaliation against a group calling itself the “peace committee,” a tribal faction which the government set up to launch attacks against Taliban targets. They threatened further attacks against such groups, which have been a common government creation in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Such tribal factions usually get set up as the result of a combination of bribes and threats from local and national government forces. In some cases the government provides weapons to the “peace committees” as well, but this is unlikely to be the case in Darra Adam Khel.
Darra Adam Khel is an almost legendary town where the vast majority of the population is directly involved in the manufacture of guns. A number of Pashtun tribes flock to the town to procure weapons from the tribal areas of Pakistan and, in some cases, Afghanistan. This makes the town of considerable strategic importance to both sides, though the local Afridi tribesmen’s independent streak has made it impossible for either outside Taliban factions or government forces to gain much of a foothold.