By HUSSAIN AFZAL, Associated Press
PARACHINAR, Pakistan (AP) — 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 had formed a 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.
Also Thursday, authorities in the restive southern Sindh province announced plans to ban Skype and other social and instant messaging sites for three months because the sites were being used by militants to relay messages.
The decision was based on recommendations from the country's security agencies, information minister Sharjeel Memon told reporters in the provincial capital of Karachi.
It was unclear when the decision would be implemented, and the sites remained active late Thursday.
Karachi is considered to be a hiding place for local and foreign militants, and clashes between heavily armed ethnic and political groups are common.
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