Blast hits Pakistan school opening

Three US military personnel and four school girls among eight dead in roadside bombing.

    The blast was reportedly caused by an improvised explosive device [Reuters]

    Pakistani officials said an Frontier Corps soldier and four schoolgirls also died.

    "We have four dead bodies (in this hospital). They are schoolgirls aged 10 to 15. We have received 65 injured, most of them are girls," Mohammed Wakeel, chief doctor at the local Taimargara hospital, said.

    Taliban claim

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    Pakistan's Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing and threatened more attacks.

    "We claim responsibility for the blast," Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Azam Tariq said.

    The school had been blown up in January 2009 and rebuilt with the help of a foreign aid organisation.

    Foreign aid workers and journalists have been particularly interested in girls' education in parts of northwest Pakistan, where Taliban fighters opposed to co-education have destroyed hundreds of schools.

    On Tuesday, at least 29 people were killed and many more wounded in a suspected US drone attack in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan.

    Officials said a series of missiles rained down on Dattakhel village in the Degan area of North Waziristan, part of Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal region near the Afghan border.

    They said the missiles struck suspected fighters' hideouts and a training centre.

    'Backlash fear'

    Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, said there were reports that up to 19 missiles had been fired.

    "One thing is quite clear - this was perhaps one of the largest attacks carried out so far," he said.

    "There is expected to be a backlash because just recently the military had clearly said that they had not given any tacit approval for the Americans to conduct such a strike and there is tremendous opposition inside Pakistan. The military is aware of that."

    Tribesman in the area of the attack had claimed that they shot down at least two US drones in the past. Those reports have not been confirmed.

    The US never confirms drone attacks, but its forces in neighbouring Afghanistan and the Central Intelligence Agency are the only ones known to use the unmanned aircraft capable of firing missiles.

    The attacks have often resulted in civilian deaths, stirring anger among Pakistanis and even bolstering support for the Taliban and anti-US sentiment.

    The US has increased drone attacks inside Pakistan since a suicide bomber crossed over the Pakistani border and killed seven CIA employees in an attack in eastern Afghanistan on December 30.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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