PARACHINAR, Pakistan – A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into the compound of a rival militant commander in northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing 15 people, a government official said.
The commander, Nabi Hanfi, was not present at the time of the attack, said Wajid Khan, a local government administrator. Hanfi has been battling the Pakistani Taliban in the Orakzai tribal area where the bombing occurred.
Gunmen first fired shots at Hanfi's compound in Balandkhel village, and then the suicide bomber detonated his vehicle, said Khan. The blast killed 15 people and wounded six others, he said.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying five militants targeted Hanfi because he formed a militant group to fight them.
"Mullah Nabi had been our target, and he will remain on our target list," Shahid told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.
A local tribal leader, Malik Nek Marjaan, said the Pakistani government has been supporting Hanfi's group in its battle against the Taliban.
The government has backed anti-Taliban militias throughout the northwest. But many of the militia members have been killed in attacks.
The Taliban have been waging a decade-long insurgency that has killed thousands of people in an attempt to impose Islamic law in Pakistan and end the country's unpopular alliance with the United States.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has pushed peace talks with the militants as the best way to end the insurgency. But the Taliban have demanded the government release all militant prisoners and begin withdrawing troops from the tribal region before they will participate in negotiations.