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Dublin: 6 °C Tuesday 22 October, 2019

Suicide bomber kills 31 at a funeral in north-west Pakistan

The blast happened on Wednesday morning and injured more than 30 people according to a hospital administrator.

An injured person rushes an injured child to a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan
An injured person rushes an injured child to a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan
Image: Associated Press

A SUICIDE BOMBER attacked a funeral attended by anti-Taliban militiamen in northwestern PakistanĀ earlier today killingĀ 31 people, according to a hospital administrator.

Police had earlier said the death toll was was at least 20 but this has since risen.

The blast took place at the funeral for the wife of a militia commander close to the key city of Peshawar and not far from the tribally administered regions that border Afghanistan where militants are at their strongest.

Jamal Shah, a doctor at the main hospital in Peshawar, said it has received 31 bodies and 32 wounded from the explosion.

The area is home to several tribal armies that battle the Taliban and receive government support for doing so.

Like elsewhere in the north-west, the militias have been relentlessly targeted by the insurgents.

Police officer Zahid Khan said around 300 people were attending the funeral for the wife a militiamen in the Matani area when the bomber struck.

Television footage showed men picking up bloodied sandals and caps from a dusty, open space where mourners had gathered.

Khan said 20 people were killed and 50 wounded in the explosion.

Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants are waging a bloody war against the Pakistani state from their bases in the northwest.

The army has launched several offensives against the militants, but has also encouraged the formation of private armies to help out in the fight.

While the ceding of authority to armed civilians has alarmed human rights groups, the state has praised the role of the militias in battling the militants or holding ground retaken from them.

Police in Peshawar said late last year that the armies in Matani were essential in stopping militant infiltration into the city.

The militiamen operate from heavily fortified compounds in the region, and have seen their influence rise as they get state backing for taking on the Taliban.

In interviews in December, commanders complained they were not getting enough government help, but claimed to have wrested Matani from militant control.

The army says it is winning the war against militants, but bombings still regularly occur in much of the country.

On Tuesday, at least 20 people were killed in a car bombing in Punjab province in eastern Pakistan.

- AP

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Hugh O'Connell

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