Dozens dead in NW Pakistan attacks

Suspected US drone fires on alleged Taliban hideout after an earlier mosque bombing.

    Former politician targeted

    The deadliest bombing of the day struck a mosque inside a religious school in the province of South Waziristan, also in the FATA.

    At least 26 people were killed and 40 others wounded. Maulana Noor Mohammad, a former member of parliament, was among the dead.

    "Apparently it was a suicide attack and Maulana Noor Mohammad was the target," an intelligence official told Reuters.

    Noor Mohammad ran the school, which is located in the main town of Wana, and was greeting worshippers after prayers at the mosque when the bomber struck.

    The mosque was badly damaged in the blast, and local residents were busy trying to recover people from the rubble amid fears that the death toll could rise further.

    Taliban 'negotiator'

    Wana residents described Noor Mohammad as an influential figure who had several times acted as a negotiator between the Taliban and the Pakistani government.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, said the Taliban could be behind the blast.

    "They have of course carried out similar attacks in the past," he said.

    "But as we know in the past several weeks as Pakistan has come to terms with terrible and devastating floods we haven't heard or seen a lot of these attacks, so this news is certainly very worrying."

    Anti-Taliban leader killed

    Another blast on the outskirts of Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killed Israr Khan, the leader of an anti-Taliban militia.

    Khan and two aides were passing through a market in the village of Matni when the bomb, planted in a cart, exploded.

    Three children were also wounded, according to police officer Khursheed Khan.

    DRONE WARS

     Between 294 and 504 people have been killed by 53 US drone strikes in Pakistan in 2010.

     An estimated 26 to 55 of those killed have been civilians.

     In 2009, the US launched 53 strikes, outpacing the 2008 total of 35.

     Around half of all strikes since the campaign began have targeted the Haqqani Network or the Tehrik e-Taliban.

    Source: New America Foundation and LongWarJournal.org

    Earlier on Monday, an explosion killed seven people at a meeting in a school in the Kurram district, part of the tribal areas.

    One district official told the Associated Press that the bomb killed local elders who had gathered to discuss a disagreement over who owned the school. Another official told the AFP news agency that the meeting had been called to settle a dispute between two tribes over an office job at the school.

    More drones

    The missile strike hit the village of Danda Darpa Khel, on the outskirts of Miramshah, North Waziristan's major town.

    It was the 53rd US drone strike in Pakistan this year, equalling the number of strikes in all of 2009, according to the New America Foundation.The US government does not acknowledge such attacks, which are reportedly run by the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Monday's strike, like others in North Waziristan, was believed to have targeted the Haqqani Network,which is based in the province and considered by the US to be the greatest threat to Nato forces in eastern Afghanistan.

    The vast majority of US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004 have taken place in North Waziristan, according to the Long War Journal website.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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