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Roadside bombs kill six in Pakistan


Islamabad : Two roadside bombings in Pakistan’s restive northwestern region Sunday killed at least six people, including a former lawmaker and an anti-Taliban tribal elder, officials said.

Ghani-ur-Rehman, a former minister in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and three of his guards died when their vehicle was struck by a bomb near Hangu, a town located 100 km southwest of the provincial capital Peshawar.

“It was a remote-controlled explosion and Ghani-ur-Rehman was the target,” local police official Iqbal Khan said. The blast injured five people, Khan added.

Hangu adjoins Pakistan’s restive tribal region, where security forces have been battling militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban for several weeks.

Separately, a roadside bomb tore through a vehicle in the Bajaur tribal district near the Afghan border, killing two people and wounding four.

Officials in the region said the victims included tribal elders, who were trying to raise a pro-government militia against the Taliban insurgents.

Pakistan troops declared victory in Bajaur early last year, after months of intense fighting, but sporadic clashes with the rebels continued.

The attacks on Sunday came two days after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car at a volleyball ground in the northwestern village of Shah Hassan Khel, killing at least 95 people and injuring scores more.

Police said the assault was carried out by Islamist insurgents in retaliation for their expulsion from the area by local people and government forces a few months ago.

The bombings were the latest in a series of attacks by Taliban militants since October. More than 600 people have died in the unrelenting wave of violence.

It is believed that most of the strikes carried out on official, military and civilian targets, are in response to the ongoing offensive in the militant stronghold of South Waziristan.

About 30,000 troops have secured key towns in the rugged region since the operation was launched Oct 17, but thousands of militants are believed to have fled into the nearby tribal districts of North Waziristan, Kurram and Orakzai.

At least eight “terrorists” were killed and several others injured during the last 24 hours as the security forces conducted search and clearance operations across South Waziristan, the military said in a statement Sunday.

According to the statement, one soldier died in a blast caused by a bomb planted by militants, while another was killed when rebels attacked a security post with rockets and gunfire.

The army says more than 625 militants and over 80 soldiers have been killed so far, but the figures are hard to confirm as journalists have not been able to access the conflict zone.