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The funeral procession for the wife of a Pakistani anti-Taliban militia member was brutally interrupted by a young suicide bomber Wednesday. More than 30 people were killed and some reports say as many as 100 were wounded in the attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.
The funeral was in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan, which abuts the country’s tribal areas and has become a haven for Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. Anti-Taliban militias have also become more common in the region.
However, despite initial encouragement, the lack of government support and protection for these militias is prompting second thoughts about trying to fight the area’s Taliban and Al Qaeda presence themselves, the Washington Post reports.
Dilawar Khan, the leader of the Adezai militia holding the funeral Tuesday, told the Post they’ve managed to slow violence in Peshawar, but the lack of government and police back-up leaves them “vulnerable to repeated attacks.”
The Adezai lashkar voted last Thursday to abandon its efforts within a week if the government did not provide more assistance, Khan said. Another militia member, Abdur Razzaq, said the group had provided police with several names of militants hiding in the area, but that police had taken no action.
"We are being killed, but the rulers are just paying lip service," Khan said. "They are living in fully guarded forts and talking against militants ... they should come and stay here overnight to feel the threat."
A Taliban spokesman said that the Taliban has been targeting these militias because they are allied with the government and therefore the United States, the Pakistani newspaper The Dawn reports. He threatened that attacks would continue unless the militias stopped trying to fight local Taliban militants.
Suspected antigovernment militants attacked the home of Mr. Khan’s predecessor in January, two days after the the militia leader was "mysteriously" slain.
Wednesday's funeral attack came only a day after a car bomb was detonated in Faisalabad in eastern Pakistan. The target was a government intelligence office, the Taliban said. It claimed responsibility for that attack as well.
It was the first militant attack in that city, which is more accustomed to sectarian strife than the antigovernment violence that has plagued the country’s northwest, Washington Post reports.
Anti-US sentiment has recently received a boost from the case of CIA agent Raymond Davis, who shot and killed two Pakistani men in late January. Mr. Davis, who told local authorities he was a low-level US embassy employee, claims the men were trying to rob him and that he shot in self-defense. Pakistan wants to charge him with double murder, but the US claims that Davis has diplomatic immunity.
Many Pakistanis see the US insistence on immunity for Davis as “the antics of a superpower throwing around its weight,” the Monitor recently reported.
Even before the Davis case emerged, there was already tension between the US and Pakistan because of US drone attacks in northwestern Pakistan and rumors that the US has plans to expand its raids on Pakistani soil (a rumor denied by the US). Pakistanis see the incidents as a lack of respect for their country’s sovereignty.