PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A bomber blew himself up Sunday among thousands of tribal members discussing resistance to al-Qaida and the Taliban, killing 40 people in the third suicide attack in as many days in northwestern Pakistan.
The rash of suicide bombings shows President Pervez Musharraf’s weakening control of the region despite the deployment of thousands of troops to crush Islamic militants.
Five tribes were meeting to finalize a resolution that would punish anyone who shelters or helps Islamic militants, including al-Qaida and Taliban fighters, Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said.
A young man walked up to a group of elders and detonated his explosives, said Alam Khan, a tribesman at the meeting in Darra Adam Khel, a town in North West Frontier Province about 25 miles south of the provincial capital, Peshawar.
Dr. Hamid Afridy, the area’s chief medical officer, said he counted 40 bodies and more than 100 injured were sent to the hospital. He said many were in critical condition and feared the death toll could rise.
Musharraf called the bombing an attempt to sabotage tribal efforts to rid the region of militant influence and reiterated the government’s “resolve and commitment” in the fight against terrorism.