KALAYA, July 21: In an apparent war of attrition between two militant groups in the tribal region of Orakzai, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden vehicle near the house of a pro-government militant commander, killing at least nine people, a senior government official said.

“This is basically between two militant groups,” Orakzai tribal region’s administrator Khushal Khan told Dawn. He said details were sketchy, but the incident occurred in Speen Tall, an area between Orakzai and Kurram tribal regions.

“The number of dead could be between nine and 12, while 13 other people have been wounded,” he said.

The injured were taken to a hospital in the nearby Hangu district.

The dead included four children, three of them girls.

Several houses were badly damaged by the impact of the blast.

The target of the bombing, Maulvi Nabi, survived, the official said. “He was not there,” he quoted local sources as saying.

An official, who did not want to be named, said that Maulvi Nabi, a militant commander, had waged a war of attrition against another group affiliated with the larger, more powerful Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.

“Both groups are involved in killing each other’s men. Maulvi Nabi is not anti-state,” the official said.

It is not clear which group was behind the suicide bombing, but the official said that the rival Mullah Toofan, who is leading a TTP-affiliated group in Orakzai, might have plotted it.

TTP spokesman in North Waziristan Ihsanullah Ihsan claimed responsibility for the attack, local media reported. He told reporters that Maulvi Nabi was targeted because he was supporting the government and was against the Taliban.

Maulvi Nabi had joined the TTP as a commander for Hangu district, but later developed differences with the militant organisation and shifted to the neighbouring Speen Tall.

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