Suicide blasts kill 41 refugees in NWFP

Pakistani police officers and rescue worker inspect the site of suicide bombing in Kacha Pukka area near Kohat, Pakistan on Saturday.  

Twin suicide bombers struck at a facility for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) -- killing at least 41 people and leaving several injured -- in the NWFP on Saturday.

This time round, the suicide bombers struck at an IDP facility in Kohat -- a district sandwiched between the Punjab province and the Orakzai agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) -- when people forced to leave Orakzai and Kurram due to security operations against the Taliban were queuing up to register themselves as IDPs and collect rations.

The two bombers detonated themselves within minutes of each other at what is referred locally as the Kacha Pukha camp. The second bomber detonated himself as people gathered around the site of the first explosion to help the wounded; thereby wrecking greater damage. This is increasingly becoming a pattern and often the second blast consumes more lives than the first.

Given that most of the 45 injured are in a serious state, the death toll is likely to go up; more so because medical facilities in Kohat are already stretched. According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) assessment carried out in March, there is a shortage of basic medicines and medical staff in Kohat.

As per the last update of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, about 800 families are registered daily at the registration centres in Hangu and Kohat. The key areas of displacement are Orakzai and Kurram; the overwhelming majority being from the former.

Since security operations began against the Taliban in the NWFP, there have been over three million IDPs from not just the province but also FATA. Besides the registered IDPs, there are others — of which there is no official count — who have moved to cities and towns across the country in search of a livelihood.

While close to two million IDPs have returned home — nearly half to Swat and Malakand which have been “cleared” of the Taliban — 1.3 million still live in camps at a time when resources available for their welfare are running dry. Saturday's blasts took place a day after the first phase of voluntary return of natives from the Mohmand Agency began from the Jalozai camp in Nowshera.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 6:16:19 PM |

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