KHAR: A teenage suicide bomber killed a Pakistani anti-Taliban militia leader and seven other people on Monday, in the sixth bomb attack in as many days to hit the nuclear-armed country.
The bomber killed his apparent target as he sipped tea with relatives at a car showroom near a bus terminal in the small town of Jandol in the district of Lower Dir, 200 kilometres from the capital Islamabad.
Pakistani troops fought what was widely considered a relatively successful offensive to expel the Taliban from the area nearly two years ago, but Monday's attack underscored the precarious state of security in the northwest.
Police said the bomber exploded himself on foot at a bus terminal close to the car showroom, where three people were among the dead and several vehicles were also damaged. The overall death toll had risen to eight by mid-afternoon.
“We have found the head of the bomber. He appears to be a teenager, a 15 to 16-year-old boy,” said Dir district police chief Saleem Marwat.
“The death toll is eight as one more person died of his injuries,” Doctor Mohammad Karim told AFP by telephone from the district hospital in Timargarah, the main town in Dir and about 28 kilometres southwest of the blast site.
Police said the target of the suicide attack was Mohammad Akbar, head of a lashkar, or tribal militia, set up by the government to fight Taliban militants.
Akbar, 55, had survived previous attempts on his life, but was in the show room run by his family members when the bomber hit.
“Malik Akbar died in the blast,” Qazi Jamil ur-Rehman, the regional deputy inspector general of police said.
“Apparently he was the target,” he added.
Residents said local authorities declared a curfew and that the emergency response had been sluggish in the remote town.
“I was in a shop a few blocks away,” Mohammad Irshad, a 30-year-old labourer, told AFP.
“I saw a young boy entering the car showroom where tribal elder Malik Akbar was having tea with his relatives. Soon there was a huge blast.
“The boy disappeared in the smoke that filled the area. His body parts were later seen littered near the show room,” he said.
Local resident Israr Uddin said it took time for ambulances to arrive from nearby towns, so people used private cars to rush the wounded to Timargarah.
More than 4,200 people have been killed across Pakistan in attacks blamed on Taliban and other extremist networks.
Monday's bombing was the sixth in six days. On Sunday, two suicide bombers killed 49 people, unleashing carnage at a Sufi shrine in the central province of Punjab where hundreds had gathered for a religious ceremony.