A major suicide bombing attack was carried out today in the small village of Butmaina, in Pakistan’s Mohmand tribal district, where a bomber with the Jamaat-ul Ahrar attacked a mosque during Friday’s prayers, killing at least 36 people and wounding 30 others.
Jamaat-ul Ahrar is a group that has had on-again, off-again relations with the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan, sometimes allied with them and sometimes at odds. The group confirmed their role in today’s bombing, citing a 2009 incident in the same village in which local anti-Taliban fighters killed 13 of their members.
Anti-Taliban vigilante groups are relatively common in Pakistan’s tribal areas, with the Pakistani government encouraging the formation of such groups and at times coercing the local population into forming such groups to resist Taliban expansion.
Such groups tend to be established on a very local basis, and built around existing tribal structures. This has often led to retaliatory strikes by the Islamist factions, themselves built around tribal structures, against the leaders of tribes on the other side, meaning historic tribal fighting has become interwoven with the insurgency.