A suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into the compound of a rival militant commander in northwest Pakistan yesterday, killing 15 people, a government official said.
The commander, Nabi Hanfi, was not present at the time of the attack, said Wajid Khan, a local government administrator. Hanfi has been battling the Pakistani Taliban in the Orakzai tribal area where the bombing occurred.
Gunmen first fired shots at Hanfi’s compound in Balandkhel village and then the suicide bomber detonated his vehicle, Khan said. The blast killed 15 people and wounded six others, he said.
No one has claimed responsibility, but suspicion is likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban.
A local tribal leader, Malik Nek Marjaan, said the Pakistani government has been supporting Hanfi’s group in its battle against the Pakistani Taliban.
On Wednesday, suspected separatists killed two Pakistani soldiers in a wave of attacks targeting troops doing relief work in a remote region of the country’s southwest where a major earthquake killed at least 376 people last week, military officials said.
Also in southwestern Baluchistan Province on Wednesday, but far from the earthquake zone, a bomb went off on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border killing six people and wounding 11 others, Pakistani security officials said.
The attacks on soldiers providing earthquake assistance highlight the difficulty and danger involved in doing such work in an area where separatists have been battling the army for years.
In the first attack, a bomb blast hit a military vehicle, killing the two soldiers, the officials said. The explosion near Mashkay, a village in the province’s southwest, also wounded three soldiers.
Their unit had been dispatched to the disaster zone after the magnitude 7.7 earthquake rocked the province on Sept. 24.
Later in the day, gunmen carried out four separate attacks against troops delivering relief supplies in the same area and on a checkpoint established as part of the effort, Pakistani military officials said.
No one was hurt in those attacks, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
There had been no claim of responsibility for the attacks, but suspicion fell on Baluch separatists, who have been battling the Pakistani military for years and have claimed responsibility for similar attacks in recent days.
The military has been ferrying aid into the region by helicopter and evacuating the injured, but troops’ increased presence in a particularly contested area at the quake’s epicenter has led to renewed clashes.
Awaran district, where the quake was centered, has been a stronghold of the separatists. Even among Baluchistan residents who are not part of the armed conflict, there is strong resentment against the central government, which many residents contend exploits the southwestern province’s oil, natural gas and mineral deposits.
Wednesday’s bombing on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border took place at a land crossing in the Pakistani town of Chaman, about 480km south of the earthquake zone, security officials said.
The six people who were killed were civilians. The wounded included six Pakistani border guards and five civilians, the officials said, also speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.