Suicide bombing, airstrike kill 14 in Pakistan


Islamabad : A suicide bomber Thursday killed 10 people in a north-western Pakistani town just outside the country’s restive tribal region where a suspected US missile strike left four militants dead hours earlier, officials said.

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The suicide blast ripped through a roadside restaurant in Jandola area, possibly the result of a feud raging between rival militant groups active in the South Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan.

“Around 25 militants associated with (the) Turkistan Bittani group were present in the restaurant when the bomber, who was on foot, struck them,” an intelligence official said.

The bombing killed 10 people, including insurgents loyal to Bittani, a rebel tribal leader opposed to top Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud. At least 20 other people were also wounded.

Mehsud heads the local Taliban movement and also aids Al Qaeda and foreign militants in carrying out cross-border attacks on international forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Based in South Waziristan district, the feared commander is also suspected of orchestrating dozens of bombings throughout Pakistan, including a suicide gun-and-bomb attack that killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Mehsud denies the charges.

The US State Department Wednesday announced a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Mehsud.

Frustrated by the surge in militant activity stemming from the volatile tribal region, the US has carried out several missile strikes inside Pakistani territory using pilotless Predator aircraft.

At least four militants were killed early Thursday when a suspected US drone launched an attack in Mir Ali area of the North Waziristan tribal district.

Two missiles hit the house of a pro-Taliban tribal elder, Malik Gulab Khan, where his “guests” were also staying, said an intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Four other people were also injured in the missile strike, which was the second suspected US attack in as many days.

A similar air strike killed at least seven Al Qaeda-linked militants in the adjoining South Waziristan Wednesday.

The latest raids came as media reports said the US was planning more aerial attacks inside Pakistan, as it believed that insurgency in Afghanistan could not be controlled without eliminating Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in the tribal region.

Pakistan has been protesting against US drone attacks inside its territory, saying these were proving counterproductive to the fight against terrorism by giving rise to anti-American public sentiment.