The death toll in the volleyball match bombing in north-west Pakistan has risen to 95, as more bodies were discovered and more people succumbed to their injuries in hospital overnight.
Friday’s ghastly attack in Shah Hassan Khel in Lakki Marwat district of the North-West Frontier Province was carried out by a suicide bomber who drove an explosives-packed sports-utility vehicle into the middle of a sports field during a local volleyball match and detonated it right there.
Among the victims were the players and people who had gathered to watch the match, as well as people in nearby houses and shops that were destroyed in the blast.
The attack took place around 5.30 p.m. when it was already dark, and rescue teams managed to search through the rubble properly only after daybreak on Saturday.
While it is the first suicide bombing to have targeted a sporting event, the attack is not the first time militants have picked on civilians. More than 100 people were killed in a car bomb attack in Peshawar’s Meena Bazaar in October 2009.
The attack in Shah Hassan Khel is an apparent reprisal for the town’s active participation in a government-backed campaign to drive out militants from the area, and evidently also a warning to people not to join such efforts.
The local community had formed its own militia to tackle militants, and at the time of the blast, the organising committee of this Laskhar was meeting in a nearby mosque.