PARACHINAR, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomber on a motorcycle attacked a pro-government tribal elder’s vehicle in northwest Pakistan on Monday, killing at least eight people, police said.
The elder, Malik Habibullah Khan, was not in the vehicle at the time of the attack, but his brother and a guard were killed, said police officer Aleem Khan. The explosion in Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province also wounded nine people, several of whom are in critical condition, the officer said.
The blast damaged several nearby vehicles and shops.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Suspicion likely will fall on the Pakistani Taliban, which has been fighting a bloody insurgency against the government that has killed thousands of civilians and security personnel.
The Pakistani government has in the past encouraged tribesmen in the northwest to form militias to fight against the Taliban. The militants have carried out many retaliatory attacks against these groups.
Pakistan’s new government, which took power in June, has said it plans to hold a meeting with other political parties and the military soon to come up with a comprehensive strategy to fight militancy.
Analysts have criticized the government so far, saying its response to attacks has been weak and confused. Suspected militants killed at least 160 people in the government’s first month in power.
The new government came to power with a platform that promoted peace talks with the Taliban as the way to tamp down militancy in the country. But that plan quickly fell apart when the Taliban withdrew their offer to talk after a U.S. drone strike killed the group’s deputy leader.
Associated Press writer Riaz Khan contributed to this report from Peshawar, Pakistan.