Pakistan suicide attack kills 102
Taliban claims responsibility
The death toll in one of the deadliest bomb attacks in Pakistan this year rose to 102 as the search for victims continued Saturday.
A pair of suicide bombers struck outside a government office Friday in the Mohmand agency, a remote Pashtun tribal region on the northwestern border with Afghanistan. The attack was aimed at anti-Taliban tribal elders who were to meet with a local government official in the village of Yakaghund.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Akramullah Mohmand called local journalists late Friday and claimed responsibility, saying the elders were the target.
The elders were not hurt, according to Mohmand chief administrator Rasool Khan. However, there are reports that at least five children and several women were among the dead.
The attack left at least 168 people wounded in the village, which has a population of about 4,000 and lies on the edge of Pakistan's tribal belt and the Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa province. Seventy to 80 shops were damaged or destroyed, while damage to a prison building allowed 28 prisoners — ordinary criminals, not militants — to flee, Khan said.
One of the bombs appeared fairly small but the other was huge, and they went off within seconds of each other, officials reported. One bomber blew himself up while riding a motorcycle. The second blast involved a small truck laden with explosives, according to witnesses.
Pakistan's northwest regions have been dealing with al-Qaeda and Taliban violence for years. Friday's attack was the third this year to kill more than 90 people, and it was the worst in the country since a car bombing killed 112 people at a market in the main northwest city of Peshawar last October.
Nevertheless, army operations and U.S. missile strikes are believed to have disrupted militant activities enough that attacks have decreased this year, especially in the northwest. In the last three months of 2009, more than 500 people were killed in a surge of attacks across the country.
With files from The Associated Press