50 die in twin Taliban suicide attacks in Pakistan: official
Two suicide bombers Monday targeted a meeting of pro-government tribal elders in a Pakistani tribal region and killed at least 50 people, officials said.
Pakistani Taliban, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed the responsibility for the attacks, sources told Xinhua.
The bombers, riding motorcycles, struck the government office at Ghalanai, the headquarters of Mohmand tribal agency, regional official Shams-ul-Islam said.
Shams-ul-Islam said that over 100 people were present in the office of Assistant Political Agent, Roshan Khan, when the bombers detonated their bombs.
Information Minister of northwest Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province Mian Iftikhar Hussain told reporters in Peshawar that 50 people were killed and 120 others were injured.
Sources said that Roshan Khan was also injured in the attacks.
Witnesses said that pro-government tribal elders were holding a jirga or council with the officials at the time of the attacks. They said that several members of the peace committee were among the victims.
Two slain tribal elders were identified as Malik Salim Khan and Malik Kachkol.
Both blasts took place in seconds, witnesses said. The security forces tried to arrest the second bomber shortly after the first blast but he also detonated his bomb, officials said.
Officials said that two local journalists, Muhammad Pervez and Wahab, who were covering the tribal jirga, were also killed in the blasts.
The office of political agent and several other buildings were also destroyed in the attacks.
This is the second major suicide attack in Mohmand Agency in five months.
In July, a Taliban suicide bomber killed over 100 people in Mohmand agency when he struck the office of local administrator near a commercial area.
Mohmand agency is located on the main road between Peshawar and Bajaur tribal region, once the stronghold of Taliban militants, in the restive tribal belt comprising seven tribal agencies along the border with Afghanistan.
Officials believe that Taliban militants, who fled the Bajaur region after the military operation, have taken shelter in the mountainous areas of Mohmand agency.
Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has strongly condemned the suicide attacks in Mohmand tribal region, declaring it as an inhuman and brutal act of the militants who have no regard for any religion.