PESHAWAR (TIP): An explosion in amarket in northwestern Pakistan on Friday,February 1, killed at least 21 people andwounded 33 in what the police described as asuicide bombing.The Pakistani Taliban claimedresponsibility for the attack in Hangu, about70 miles west of Peshawar, the capital ofKhyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Abu Omar, aTaliban commander in the neighboring tribalregion of North Waziristan, said in atelephone interview that the attack was inrevenge for the killing on Thursday of a Sunnicleric.
The cleric, Mufti Abdul Majeed Deenpuri,60, was shot in the southern port city ofKarachi, setting off fears of reprisals againstShiites.Mr. Deenpuri was a senior teacher at JamiaBinoria, one of the largest seminaries inPakistan. A gunman opened fire on a vehiclecarrying the cleric and a colleague at a busyintersection and then fled.While the security situation is precariousacross Pakistan, Rehman Malik, the interiorminister, had warned of the potential for anattack in Karachi, a sprawling, violence-proneport city. Cellphone service was suspendedthere from noon to 3 p.m. during FridayPrayer.Sectarian violence has also occurred inHangu in the past, often forcing theauthorities to impose a curfew.
The townborders the Orakzai tribal region, where thearmy and paramilitary forces are fightingTaliban militants.Friday’s explosion occurred just afterFriday Prayer as worshipers filed out ofnearby Sunni and Shiite mosques, policeofficials said. “People were coming out of themosque when the explosion occurred,” saidone officer in Hangu, speaking on thecondition of anonymity.Another police official in Hangu said asuicide bomber had detonated his explosives.While Shiites were the likely target, the deadincluded people from both Islamic sects, hesaid.
Separately, a Pakistani intelligenceofficial, speaking on the condition ofanonymity, said 30 mortar shells fired fromAfghanistan on Friday morning killed sixresidents of Angoor Adda, a border village inSouth Waziristan. However, there was noofficial comment from the Pakistani military,and a local government official gave aconflicting number of casualties, saying threepeople were killed and six wounded.In recent years, Pakistan and Afghanistanhave traded barbs over accusations of crossborderrocket and artillery fire. The 1,510-milecraggy border between the two countries haslong posed a problem for both sides, eachaccusing the other of not manning the bordereffectively.
Both sides maintain thatinsurgents easily cross over the porous border,but plans to fence the border have beenrejected as impractical.On Thursday, Human Rights Watchreleased its World Report 2013, which sharplycriticized the Pakistani government and itsmilitary and intelligence agencies for failingto reduce human rights abuses.”Pakistan’s human rights crisis worsenedmarkedly in 2012 with religious minoritiesbearing the brunt of killings and repression,”said Ali Dayan Hasan, the director in Pakistanfor Human Rights Watch. “While the militarycontinued to perpetrate abuses with impunityin Baluchistan and beyond, Sunni extremistskilled hundreds of Shia Muslims and theTaliban attacked schools, students andteachers.”