A suicide car bombing that killed 88 people on a volleyball field sent a bloody New Year's warning to residents trying to resist the Talibanisation of Pakistan's northwestern region near the Afghan border. The attack in Lakki Marwat city was one of the deadliest in recent Pakistani history. As local tribesmen prepared for funerals today, rescuers were still searching for bodies trapped underneath rubble. The suicide bomber detonated 250 kilograms of high-intensity explosives on the crowded field during a volleyball tournament held on Friday near a meeting of anti-Taliban elders. The elders were probably the actual target, police said.
Lakki Marwat is near South Waziristan, a tribal region where the army has been battling the Pakistani Taliban since October. The military operation was undertaken with the backing of the US, which is eager for Pakistan to free its tribal belt of militants believed to be involved in attacks on Western troops in Afghanistan. The offensive has provoked apparent reprisal attacks that had already killed more than 500 people in Pakistan before Friday's blast.