DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — A remote-controlled bomb targeting a police patrol killed 13 people yesterday in an area of northwestern Pakistan where many citizens fled last year to escape an army offensive against the Taliban, police said.
The attack, which killed 3 police officers and 10 civilians, occurred as the patrol vehicle traveled through the town of Dera Ismail Khan, said Gul Afzal Khan, the police chief. He initially blamed the explosion on a suicide bomber but later said it was a remote-controlled bomb.
The victims included a senior police officer in the area as well as his guard and driver, Khan said. The civilians killed included a couple and their two children who were passing by on a motorcycle.
Another 15 people were injured by the homemade bomb, which police explosives specialist Inayatullah Khan said contained nearly 9 pounds of explosives.
Hundreds of thousands of people fled to Dera Ismail Khan in mid-October when the army launched a big ground offensive against the Pakistani Taliban’s main stronghold in the South Waziristan tribal area near the Afghan border.
The displacement added to an already serious problem in Pakistan caused by similar operations launched earlier in the year, especially one in the Swat Valley.
In total, an estimated 3 million Pakistanis fled to other areas of the country to avoid conflict last year, the highest number of internally displaced people in the world, according to a UN-backed report released Monday.
Around two-thirds were able to return to their homes by the end of the year, but some 1.2 million remain displaced, said the report published by the Norwegian Refugee Council, a nongovernmental organization.
That number has grown this year as thousands of people have fled smaller operations the military has launched in the tribal areas.