Volleyball Bombing Targeted Taliban-Resistant Town
ARI SHAPIRO, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Ari Shapiro, filling in for Scott Simon.
A volleyball tournament in northwest Pakistan was the scene of a bloody explosion. The apparent suicide bombing took place in a village that has tried to resist the Taliban. Richard Oppel of the New York Times joins us on the line from Islamabad to discuss the latest. Good morning.
Mr. RICHARD OPPEL (New York Times): Hi, Ari.
SHAPIRO: Will you describe for us, the struggle that's been taking place with the Taliban in this part of the country?
Mr. OPPEL: Well, what you've had is the military right next to where this volleyball tournament was - South Waziristan - the military's had an offensive there for three months and has driven out a lot of militants into areas near there. And in some of those places you had citizen militias fighting the militants, and that's what you had here in this area, in Shah Hassan Khel.
SHAPIRO: And so is this seen as a revenge attack to punish the villagers?
Mr. OPPEL: That's right. They were forming what they called a peace committee, which is another name for a citizen militia, or Lashkar, that, one of the same sort that has sprung up around northwest Pakistan in the last year, year-and-a-half. And they actually were in the process of putting one of these militias together.
And they had gotten phone calls from militants in North Waziristan warning them not to go forward with the peace committee, and they still had gone forward. And they had a series of attempted bomb attacks against other people in the area in the last two weeks. And then you had what happened yesterday, which left in the vicinity of 100 people dead.
SHAPIRO: Give us some context for the scope and size of this bombing.
Mr. OPPEL: Well, it was a massive bomb - hundreds of pounds of explosives were in a large pickup truck that the bomber drove onto a playground where this volleyball tournament was ongoing. He was surrounded by families and children who were watching volleyball, which his a very popular sport in this part of Pakistan.
And it just incinerated everything in a wide radius and collapsed houses near the playground. Some of the victims were buried under rubble. That's part of the reason why the death toll has been so fluid since the attack, is because some of the dead were buried under rubble and they didn't have large machines to get the rubble off - they had to do everything by hand. So, it just wiped out this entire part of the village.
SHAPIRO: That's Richard Oppel of the New York Times, speaking with us from Islamabad, Pakistan. Thank you very much.
Mr. OPPEL: Thank you, Ari.
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