PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A suicide bomber struck a funeral attended by anti-Taliban militiamen in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing at least 36 mourners and wounding more than 100 in the deadliest militant attack in the country this year. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.
The blast near the city of Peshawar was not far from the tribally administered regions bordering Afghanistan where militants are at their strongest. The area struck is home to several tribal armies that battle the Pakistani branches of the Taliban with the government's encouragement.
Police officer Zahid Khan said about 300 people were attending the funeral for the wife of a militiaman in the Matani area when the bomber struck. TV footage showed men picking up bloodied sandals and caps from a dusty, open space where mourners had gathered.
Witnesses said the bomber, who appeared to be in his late teens, showed up at the funeral just as it was about to begin.
"We thought this youth was coming to attend the funeral, but he suddenly detonated a bomb," survivor Syed Alam Khan said.
Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said the insurgents targeted the militiamen because they were allied with the Pakistani government and, effectively, the United States.
"We will carry out more such attacks if they did not stop their activities," he said via phone from an undisclosed location.
Militia commander Dilawar Khan said he would consult his fighters and local elders about whether to keep battling the Taliban, insisting that the government did not provide them with the resources they need.