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Suicide bombing kills 12 in Pakistan


Islamabad : A suicide bomber detonated explosives near a military checkpoint in Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal region Saturday, killing at least 12 people, officials said.

More than 25 people were wounded in the blast, which tore through a market in Khar, the main town of the district bordering Afghanistan.

“So far we can confirm 12 deaths but the casualty count could rise because several victims are in a critical condition,” an official of the local administration said.

The bombing comes as the government forces have intensified their operation against the Taliban militants in Bajaur, killing nearly 45 insurgents earlier this week.

Pakistan’s tribal region is described as a hotbed of Taliban militants and their Al Qaeda cohorts, who launch deadly assaults on US and NATO forces operating in Afghanistan.

The US routinely carry out missile strikes inside the the rugged region to take out Taliban sanctuaries.

A similar attack on a suspected Taliban hideout in the North Waziristan tribal district around midnight Friday killed at least nine rebels, a security official said Saturday.

The strike in the Mohammad Khel village was the latest in a barrage of aerial raids since Dec 30, when a suicide bomber killed seven US intelligence agents in the Afghan province of Khost.

Missiles fired by a pilotless US aircraft flattened a building complex and destroyed a vehicle parked inside.

A security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said those killed included Al Qaeda members of Arab and Uzbek origins.

North Waziristan is a known enclave of Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters linked with the Haqqani network.

The lawless region has been the focus of US strikes since the bombing of a US intelligence base by a Jordanian double agent, who appeared sitting next to Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in his farewell video.

Pakistan publicly condemns the air attacks on its soil, saying they stoke up anti-US sentiments, but analysts believe that the government has a secret understanding with Washington on the issue.