Deadly blast hits bus terminal in Khyber, Pakistan

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool: "Pakistanis over the last couple of years have become used to atrocities like this"

At least 30 people have been killed after a bomb exploded near a bus terminal in a tribal region of north-west Pakistan, officials say.

The blast took place in the town of Jamrud in the Khyber tribal region, an area where militants have previously launched deadly attacks.

Police say the bomb was planted in a vehicle in Jamrud's busy market area and detonated remotely.

More than 60 people were injured, some of them critically, officials say.

"It was a huge blast and caused damage to a number of vehicles at the bus terminal," Khyber tribesman Khan Zaman was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

"People were burning," shopkeeper Sharif Gul said, adding that the blast ignited a huge fire.

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From a hospital in Peshawar, he told the Associated Press news agency that there was nothing with which to put out the fire.

Jamrud target

The frequency of high-profile bombings has decreased in Pakistan over the past year. This is the bloodiest attack since a suicide bomber killed at least 40 people at a mosque, also in Jamrud, in August.

Jamrud has been the target of several major blasts in recent years.

Analysis

The bombing in Khyber comes amid heightened tensions between the Pakistani security forces and factions of the TTP, an anti-Pakistan umbrella organisation of Taliban militants.

Pakistani soldiers who were being held hostage by militants were killed in two separate incidents last week in revenge over what a TTP spokesman described as ongoing military operations against the militants.

In Khyber tribal region, the military has been conducting limited operations against a number of militant groups for several years.

But local tribes have also formed armed groups of volunteers to fight militants. They have often attracted retaliatory attacks from the militants, who have targeted mosques and marketplaces to hit the tribesmen.

This latest attack may simply be continuing that pattern.

No group has said it carried out this latest attack as yet.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says the Jamrud area is dominated by the Kukikhel branch of the Afridi tribe, who have organised a militia to fight a local faction of the Taliban.

Several militant groups fighting the government are active in Khyber region, which is close to the Afghan border.

Although the target of this attack has not been confirmed, one report suggests members of the anti-Taliban militia were in the vicinity when the blast took place.

Pakistan is a key US ally in the fight against militancy in the region and its army has carried out several offensives against militants in their tribal strongholds.

Correspondents say there has been recent media speculation about peace talks between elements of the Taliban and the Pakistani government. But militants denied such talks, saying they would take revenge if the army continued to carry out attacks against them.

On Monday, at least 10 paramilitary troops, who had been abducted late last year, were found shot dead in neighbouring Orakzai tribal region.

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