Little attention has been given to the Pakistani airforce bombs that tragically killed around 70 innocent people in Sera Vella in the Jamrud subdivision of the remote Tirah Valley on Saturday. Those few news outlets that reported the incident stated that the victims were extremists. However, this now seems not to be true.
According to one report, the first of two bombs was dropped on the house of tribesman Hameed Khan, a member of the Kukikhel Afridi sub-tribe and three of whose sons serve in the Frontier Corps. That killed two women and three children.
A gang of men working nearby on clearing a water channel - many of them serving soldiers - then began to dig in the ruins of the collapsed house looking for survivors when they were hit by the second bomb. This is when most of the fatalities took place. Others died from their wounds as relatives tried to take them to the nearest hospitals, often along small tracks in this remote area.
All those killed were loyal citizens, according to elders Malik Ikramullah and Malik Wazir Kukikhel, who called for an inquiry into the bombings. Ironically, the Sera Vella area, inhabited by the Kokikhel subtribe, is one of the few parts of Tirah and Khyber that is free of militants, with many residents serving in either the paramilitary Frontier Corps or the army.
In recognition of the error, Federal Minister of Environment Hameedullah Jan Afridi has asked officials of the Pakistan Air Force to apologise for the bombing. He added that the federal government will soon announce compensation for the survivors. Already substantial sums have been paid out by the local political agent.
It is thought that the target of the bombs was intended to be hideouts of fighters loyal to Lashkar-e-Islam leader Mangal Bagh Afridi.