Media outlets are reporting today that an American aid worker working for a U.S.-based development firm was shot and killed in Peshawar. According to the NY Times, the man, identified as Steve Vance [Dawn identified him as “Stephen Wanz“] was “assassinated” in his car when he was on his way to the house in Peshawar “where Mr. Vance ran a project to bring small-scale projects and jobs to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.” His Pakistani driver was also killed in the incident. [Image from the AFP]
According to the Washington Post, “Most employees of the U.S. consulate in Peshawar live in a compound at the consulate itself, but some choose the University Town neighborhood. In August, gunmen shot at the car carrying the top U.S. diplomat in the city, Lynne Tracy, who also lives in University Town. She was unharmed.” The killings Wednesday came after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a crowded sports stadium in the center of Peshawar Tuesday night, “moments after leading politicians of the city had left the arena,” reported the Times. At least 13 people were wounded in yesterday’s bombing, media outlets reported.
Dawn cited a “Western security official,” who said the gunmen blocked the men’s vehicle in a narrow lane with their own car, then opened fire with automatic weapons. A U.S. embassy spokesman told news agencies, “The attack is currently under investigation and we are coordinating with the local authorities.” Most media outlets, including AAJ Television framed Wednesday’s incident in light of the larger security situation. AAJ reported, “Violence has surged in the northwest where militants have unleashed a wave of bomb and suicide attacks in recent months, while U.S. missile strikes in the tribal lands bordering Afghanistan have fueled anti-American sentiment.” Moreover, reported the AFP, “The Pakistan military’s crackdown on the guerrillas – forces moved into the tribal Bajaur region in August – is unpopular with many in the region. Officials say the military campaign has left more than 1,500 people dead.”
So far, Tehreek-e-Taliban, the umbrella organization of militant groups that Baitullah Mehsud heads, [click here for CHUP’s past backgrounder on Mehsud], has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s suicide bombing at Peshawar’s sport stadium. No one has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s incident, although media outlets are implying that the Pakistani Taliban may also have perpetrated the assassination.