By Zulfiqar Ali and Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times –
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A bomb blast killed at least 29 people Tuesday at a bus terminal along the Afghan border and may have been an attempt by militants to avenge the death of one of their top commanders, local officials said.
The bomb was planted in a pickup truck parked in front of a gasoline pump in Jamrud, a small town in the tribal region of Khyber, said the region’s top government official, Mutahiar Zaib. The explosion injured at least 27 people, many of whom were taken to local hospitals in critical condition.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blast as of Tuesday afternoon. However, local officials said they believed it may have been carried out by the Pakistani Taliban, an insurgent group that has been battling the country’s military for years.
Taliban leaders were angered by the death of Qari Kamran, a militant commander killed by Pakistani soldiers during a raid on his compound in the Khyber region Jan. 1. Kamran led the insurgent group’s operations in the northwest city of Nowshera.
Last week, Pakistani Taliban leaders said the killing of 15 Pakistani paramilitary troops that they had kidnapped from a fort near the Afghan border in December was in retaliation for Kamran’s death. A few days later, the bodies of 10 other paramilitary soldiers abducted by militants Dec. 24 from their base in the Orakzai tribal region were found near the Afghan border. Authorities said the Pakistani Taliban was responsible for the soldiers’ killings.