KOHAT A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden vehicle at a tribal jirga in the upper Orakzai tribal region, killing more than 50 tribesmen and injuring over 100 others on Friday, the injured brought to Kohat and hospital sources said.
Eye-witnesses and officials present at the scene, however, gave conflicting figures about the death toll and the injured. They feared that the death toll would rise as more injured were brought to the hospitals in Kohat. They said that scores of injured still lying at the blast site were yet to be shifted to hospitals.
'The jirga was in progress when a pick-up truck ripped through it. The explosion was so severe that the vehicle was buried in the ground', said an elder at the hospital.
They said that the elders of Alizai tribe had gathered in Ghiljo bazaar to take a decision about the Taliban headquarters in Khadezai when a car bomber struck the jirga, wreaking havoc at the place.
The government declared emergency in all hospitals in Hangu and Kohat districts soon after the incident, where the injured were brought.
A doctor at Ghiljo hospital told Dawn on phone that five bodies were still lying at the hospital, while 15 wounded with minor injuries were being treated there. He said that the critically wounded people had been referred to hospitals in Kohat and Hangu.
'Over 2000 armed tribesmen had gathered at an open place to chalk out a line of action against militants. The jirga was continuing when a mini-truck approached it and exploded', he said.
Sources feared that many injured people had died on their way from the scene of the blast because they could not make it to the hospital as the nearest hospital was at a distance of one and half hours journey. The seriously injured were brought to the Kohat divisional headquarters hospital after five hours.
Sources said that 25 injured had been brought to the Kohat hospital, where two of them expired. They said that the injured people, one of them a child, were in very critical condition.
Political Agent Orakzai Agency Kamran Zeb confirmed the suicide attack at the jirga. He said that all the 18 tribes of the Orakzai Agency had unanimously decided that they would not allow Taliban to use their land for terrorism last month.
The Alizai tribe which was targeted on Friday had burnt the house of Maulvi Ghulam Nabi and one Kamran who were found involved in anti state activities few days back, which had angered the Taliban.
There were more than 5000 Taliban were taking shelter in Orakzai Agency therefore the tribes formed a lashkar of 60,000 armed tribesmen to deal with them, sources said.
Soon after signing an agreement with the government, the elders of lower Orakzai destroyed several houses, arrested more than 13 Taliban and recovered drums full with explosives and suicide vests in the Chappar area.
Earlier, the government had sent gunship helicopters for the support of the elders who had taken action against Taliban in Ferozekhel area. These Taliban had come from Darra Adamkhel, where military operation was still continuing.
'There is complete understanding between the government and the tribal elders of all the 18 tribes that the Taliban are the enemies of state and a threat to the norms and traditions of the tribal areas. The action against Taliban became necessary when foreigners and Taliban fleeing Bajaur Agency, Momand Agency, Darra Adamkhel, Hangu and Waziristan Agency took shelter here following permission from the tribes.'
On May 3, a suicide bomber had ripped through a tribal jirga in Darra Adamkhel, Frontier Region of Kohat, in which 42 tribesmen had been killed.