Mohmand Agency carnage

Shocking indeed were Friday morning’s two explosions that initially killed 102 and injured more than 100 internally displaced persons (IDPs) outside the political agent’s office in Mohmand Agency’s headquarters of Yakaghund. Eyewitnesses said the first minor explosion was followed minutes later by a huge blast which occurred when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of a crowd of IDPs receiving relief goods especially wheelchairs for their physically challenged companions. PA Amjad Ali Khan and APA Rasool Khan told media persons that they might well have been the target of the suicide striker. So powerful indeed was the impact of the second blast that it flattened several shops and damaged the adjacent prison thus enabling some 28 dangerous jail inmates to flee. Satellite television channels beamed highly disturbing images into homes. As blood streamed down his graying eyebrows, an octogenarian tribesman grimaced in pain on the arms of depressed security men that carried him to a hospital. For lack of facilities in Yakaghund, many of the wounded IDPs had to be carted away to hospitals in Shabqadar, Charsadda and even Peshawar. With no stretchers or ambulances immediately available, people were seen carrying their near and dear ones on charpoys.

The Yakaghund explosions came at a time when drone strikes in tribal areas assumed alarming proportions in the wake of visits by such important American figures as the CIA director Leon Panetta, special US envoy for Afpak region Richard Holbrooke, new commander of US and Nato forces General David Petraeus and the eagerly-awaited Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. US Consul-General in Peshawar, Candace E Putnam, had been dropping hints that it was just about time a military cleanup operation was launched in North Waziristan. Since Mohmand Agency borders on the settled area, security agencies should be extra vigilant about the infiltration of militants into congested localities of major urban centres.

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