By Jibran Ahmad
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Five people were killed in a blast in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, including an influential anti-Taliban tribal leader, police said, in the fist major bombing in over a decade in an area that was once a battleground between security forces and militants.
The attack comes as fears rise about the return of Pakistani Taliban, also known as the TTP, to the Swat area of Pakistan, and peace talks between security forces and militants, that started last year, have failed.
Peace committee leader Idrees Khan’s vehicle drove over an improvised explosive device, killing him and two bodyguards, Swat police officer Zahid Marwat told Reuters.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Khan was a local elder and previously the head of a tribal force fighting against the TTP in Swat. Pakistani forces, along with local fighters, were able to drive the militants from the area in an intense military operation.
The operation had made global headlines with the international community fearing the rapid advance of the TTP fighters towards the capital, Islamabad.
Local residents said Tuesday’s blast was first major blast in Swat after the 2009 military operation in the picturesque valley, which is where militants shot education activist Malala Yousafzai, who later went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Locals told Reuters that many affluent residents and political leaders had already shifted their families out of Swat in recent weeks after the TTP resurfaced in the area.
(Writing by Gibran Peshimam; Editing by David Gregorio)