Another ghastly act


The government needs to do more

The bombing of a Jamrud mosque on Friday which left 50 people dead and more than 100 injured points to the resurgence of militancy in the restive tribal region. The death toll is expected to rise further as most of the wounded had severe burn injuries caused by lethal explosives.

The attack took place soon after the Friday prayers had ended. Following the blast, personnel of the paramilitary agencies cordoned off the area and started removing the dead and the injured from the debris. Nobody has so far claimed the responsibility for the suicide strike, but Khyber Agency’s political agent was quoted as having said that it might be the result of an ongoing fighting between the Taliban and the Kukikhel tribe in Tirah valley.

That bombing could possibly be retaliation for the killing of a dozen militants in an ambush four days ago. News reports indicated that the locals have been resisting the presence of Taliban in the area. This was not the first incident of its kind. As many as 50 people were killed in almost an identical attack on a mosque in Jamrud in 2009 which might have compelled the tribesmen to form lashkars to quell the rising tide of extremism.

That the local tribesmen had to finally take upon themselves the responsibility for fighting against militants strengthens the perception that successive military operations have failed to clear the Khyber Agency which is still being inhabited by terrorist networks.

As usual the local administration quickly announced compensation for the dead and injured. But that’s not enough. A lot more needs to be done. The people living in the troubled areas, who are often targeted by militants, have to be provided better security. It’s time the interior ministry devised a comprehensive strategy to protect public places by enhancing deployment of paramilitary troops besides setting up walk through gates at mosques and business centres all over the region. The state cannot afford to abdicate its duty.