LANDI KOTAL: Four security personnel and six civilians were killed and at least 25 others injured in a suicide attack on a security checkpost in Jamrud tehsil of Khyber Agency on Tuesday. A tribal journalist as well as a man, his wife and son were among the dead.

A witness told Dawn that the bomber ran towards the checkpost of Khasadar and Levies in Wazir Dhand market after stepping off a motorcycle and blew himself up.

They said Jamrud Khasadar assistant line officer Nawab Shah was having tea with the journalist and other personnel at the security post when the bomber attacked them.

“Based on eyewitness accounts, it was a suicide attack,” Khyber tribal region administrator Shahab Ali Shah told Dawn on phone from the area. The bomber detonated his suicide vest at the checkpost in a crowded area.

Mr Shah said the dead included Khasadar Force assistant line officer Nawab Shah and journalist Mehboob Shah, who was sitting with the force. He said the target of the bomber appeared to be security personnel and not the journalist.

Mr Shah said there was no specific threat. “There was a general threat alert of a possible terrorist attack in Peshawar, so security was beefed up.”

Police and bomb disposal squad personnel rushed to the place to assist tribal authorities in gathering forensic evidence. “We have collected some parts of the bomber’s body,” administrator Shah said.

The blast caused a fire which destroyed three vehicles, one of them fitted with CNG cylinder, and three motorcycles and damaged two nearby shops.

The dead Khasadar and Levies personnel were identified as Nawab Shah, Abdur Raziq, Gul Khitab and Umar Khan.

Mehboob Shah was former president of the Tribal Union of Journalists (Khyber unit). He belonged to the Qambar Khel tribe in Bara and is survived by a wife, two sons and three daughters. 

Shah Faisal, his wife Shamim and their son seven-year-old Shahzeb also died in the blast. They were residents of Malikdin Khel area of Bara.

The identity of two other persons could not be ascertained. 

The injured were taken to the Hayatabad Medical Complex, where doctors said the condition of at least five of them was critical. 

Police and Khasadar personnel cordoned off the area and traffic remained suspended on the Peshawar-Torkham highway for several hours, casing hardship to people. 

There were conflicting reports about who carried out the suicide attack on the checkpost.

The banned Lashkar-i-Islam claimed responsibility for the attack. Its spokesman Salahuddin Ayubi alleged that assistant line officer Nawab Shah was involved in the arrest and torture of his organisation’s activists in Jamrud. 

He said 26-year-old Shahid of Bar Qambar Khel tribe of Bara had carried out the attack. “Claims made by other groups were baseless as it was done by our man,” he told Dawn by mobile phone having an Afghanistan number.

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (Fazlullah group) made a similar claim. Its spokesman Mohammad Khurasani said in a text message to journalists that his group had carried out the attack.

AIR STRIKE: Later in the day, military planes bombed hideouts in Tirah valley, killing at least six suspected militants and injuring several others.

Political agent Shahab Ali told Dawn that the administration had information about presence of militants in Tirah, denying the air strike had been carried out in retaliation for the Jamrud suicide blast.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2016

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