A northwest Pakistani village that tried to resist Taliban infiltration struggled with grief on Saturday as families mourned 96 people killed in an apparent revenge suicide bombing at an outdoor volleyball game.
The attack on Shah Hasan Khel village was one of the deadliest in a surge of bombings that have killed more than 600 since October, and it sent a bloody New Year’s message to Pakistanis who dare take on the armed Islamist extremists.
As rescuers looked for bodies in the rubble, many residents in the village of 5,000 were too scared on Saturday to even speculate who carried out the blast. The bomber detonated some 250 kg of high-intensity explosives on the crowded field in the village during a volleyball match Friday.
The blast was probably intending to hit a nearby gathering of tribal elders who oversee an anti-Taliban militia. The committee was debating how to punish relatives of militants suspected in the recent killing of a fellow tribesman.
The blast levelled some three dozen mud-brick homes and covered the village with dust, smoke and the smell of burning flesh.