Police officers visit the site of a suicide bombing in in Lower Dir on Thursday. – Photo by AP

TIMERGARA: At least 26 people were killed and 65 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up during the funeral of an anti-Taliban tribesman in a Lower Dir village, not far from the Afghan border on Thursday.

The attack came two days after four children returning from school were killed near Peshawar because elders of their tribe had formed a ‘lashkar’ against militants.

Sources told Dawn that most of the people attending the funeral in the village of Beero were from the Mishwani tribe which had been fighting the Taliban from Afghanistan. The funeral was for Malik Bakht Sultan who was killed in a road accident in Peshawar on Wednesday.The sources said the suicide bomber aged between 18 and 20 years was in rear rows of the funeral prayer.

Medical Superintendent of Timergara Hospital Dr Wakeel Mohammad said the injured who were in serious condition were being shifted to Peshawar.

He told reporters that 52 of the injured had been brought to his hospital. “We referred four of them to Peshawar because they had critical head injuries.”

District Police Officer Saleem Marwat confirmed that it was a suicide attack and 26 people had been killed and 55 injured.

But a hospital source said the number of injured was 65. According to him, 52 people were admitted to the district hospital and 13 were being treated at the Samar Bagh Civil Hospital.

Eyewitness Ameer Khan told this correspondent at Timergara hospital that he had seen a boy aged between 18 and 22 standing behind the rows. He said the boy appeared strange and suspicious to him and, therefore, he decided to skip the funeral prayer.Immediately after the first ‘takbeer’, he said, the boy rushed towards the centre of the gathering. “I took out my pistol to fire at him and also shouted at an armed guard standing there to shoot him, but by that time the boy had entered the gathering and then I heard a loud bang,” Ameer Khan said. Azad who was injured in the blast said he was standing in the front row and with the second ‘takbeer’ he heard a loud sound.

Mir Akbar said at the Samar Bagh hospital he was standing in the middle rows when the bomber hit the gathering.

Some of the injured claimed there had been two blasts. They said that before blowing himself up the boy had hurled a hand-grenade at the gathering. Police and other security personnel cordoned off the area after the blast and took precautionary measures to avert another attack.

Local people took the injured to hospitals in Samar Bagh, but because of lack of facilities there most of them were shifted to Timergara and four were referred to Peshawar.

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