Suicide bomb kills dozens at Pakistani funeral

A suicide bomber killed at least 36 people Wednesday at a funeral in northwest Pakistan attended by anti-Taliban militiamen. Piles of personal belongings were left after the deadliest militant attack in the country so far this year. (March 9)
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, March 9, 2011; 9:23 AM

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A suicide bomber killed at least 36 people at a funeral being held Wednesday by an anti-Taliban militia in the suburbs of this northwest city, police and government officials said.

The Pakistani Taliban, which regularly attacks tribal militias organized to combat insurgents, claimed responsibility for the attack in the Matanai area. The location borders Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal areas, where Taliban and al-Qaeda militants have established havens.

The blast, which injured dozens, took place as hundreds of people were offering funeral prayers for the wife of one militia member, said Dilawar Khan, the leader of the group. The bomber was a teenager who pretended to be attending the funeral, Pakistani media reported.

Khan's tribe, the Adezai, formed a "peace committee" three years ago with government encouragement, and police say his and other similar groups in the area have helped slow violence in Peshawar.

But Khan and other militias complain that the government and police provide them with little support, leaving the militias - known as lashkars - vulnerable to repeated attacks.

The Adezai lashkar voted last Thursday to abandon its efforts within a week if the government did not provide more assistance, Khan said. Another militia member, Abdur Razzaq, said the group had provided police with several names of militants hiding in the area, but that police had taken no action.

"We are being killed, but the rulers are just paying lip service," Khan said. "They are living in fully guarded forts and talking against militants ... they should come and stay here overnight to feel the threat."

The bombing took place one day after a car bomb killed at least 25 people in the eastern city of Faisalabad. That blast was also claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, which remains capable of carrying out major attacks throughout the nation despite several military offensives against its strongholds near the Afghan border.

Brulliard reported from Islamabad.

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