A suspected bomb blast near a fuel station in the Jamrud area of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber tribal region has killed at least 29 people and wounded at least 44 others, regional government officials say.
Media reports suggested the attack targeted the Zaka Khel tribe, which has aided the Pakistani government in fighting against armed groups in the area, and was a retaliation for the killing of a Taliban leader in a recent government raid.
“It was a huge blast and caused damage to a number of vehicles at the bus terminal,” Khan Zaman, a Khyber tribesman from the Jamrud bazaar, said on Tuesday.
The Jamrud area is about 25km west of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The region serves as the main supply route for NATO forces in Afghanistan and is a stronghold of the Taliban in Pakistan, al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters, and other armed groups opposed to the government.
Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from the Pakistani capital Islamabad, said it was not yet clear who was behind the bombing.
“We were told the explosives were packed in a vehicle that was parked in the busy bazaar area of Jamrud. After the explosion there were heavy casualties,” he said.
On January 6, the Pakistani Taliban beheaded 15 kidnapped paramilitary soldiers. A spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan said the move was in retaliation for Qari Kamran’s death, who was killed in a raid by Paksitani forces, and promised further revenge.
Pakistan has for years battled armed groups in the northwest and the tribal belt, with more than 3,000 soldiers killed in the battle against them.
Pakistani authorities recovered on Monday the bodies of 10 soldiers in an exchange of bodies with Taliban fighters following a clash two weeks ago in the tribal belt.
An official of the military’s media wing said the 10 soldiers had been missing in Orakzai district since December 21, when fighters attacked a checkpoint.