On Saturday, December 25 a suicide bomber killed 46 people at a ration distribution centre in the Bajaur tribal region. A burqa-clad woman apparently lobbed two hand grenades into the crowd of 300 before blowing herself up. As well as the 46 dead, some 76 others were wounded some critically.
The World Food Program (WFP) has temporarily suspended its operations until the situation stabilises. Its four centres feed up to 41,000 families a month.
The Pakistan Taliban has claimed responsibility but the bomber remains unidentified. Foreign humanitarian organizations operating in Pakistan are often the target of Islamist militants who say they oppose any foreign presence. These foreign-aid agencies have curtailed their activities due to safety concerns making it more difficult to deliver much-needed help to areas affected by this summer’s floods.
The Taliban has found sanctuary in these various tribal regions, seven semi-autonomous zones that border Afghanistan. Pakistan’s army has launched a war against the militants in the past two years and unfortunately, retaliatory strikes have often targeted civilians, such as those Saturday. While the army declared victory over militants in Bajaur last year after a major offensive, this latest bombing shows the problems for the military in holding on to territory. The militants have regrouped.
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