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Central & South Asia
Dozens killed in Pakistan blasts
At least 50 people are killed in twin explosions which appear to have targeted a government official.
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2010 03:53 GMT
The injured were being transferred to hospitals in Peshawar [EPA]

Suspected twin suicide blasts have killed at least 50 people and injured many others at a government compound in northwest Pakistan, officials said.

There were fears that the death toll in the Mohmand tribal agency could rise significantly because of the scores of people wounded in the attacks on Monday.

"There were two bombers. They were on foot. The first blew himself up inside the office of one of my deputies while the second one set off explosives when guards caught him," Amjad Ali Khan, the senior government official in Mohmand region,  said.

Khan and a group of anti-Taliban activists he was meeting appeared to have been the target of the attacks.

"There was a meeting under way between the local administration chief and  tribal elders, members of the peace committee [anti-Taliban militia] when the blast took place," Maqsood Amin, an administration official, said.

Mohammad Ghaffar, one of Khan's deputies, said that the government official was meeting the tribesmen to discuss the need to further strengthen anti-Taliban militias helping the government.

'Deafening sound'

The dead and wounded included tribal elders, police, at least 10 government officials and other civilians. Two of the dead were local TV journalists.


Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports on the deadly blasts that rocked Pakistan

"There was a deafening sound and it caused a cloud of dust and smoke and a subsequent hue and cry," Qalandar Khan, who was visiting an imprisoned cousin at the compound, said.

"There were dozens on the ground like me, bleeding and crying. I saw body parts scattered in the compound."

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Islamabad, said the injured were transferred to hospitals in the city of Peshawar because the health facilities in Mohmand were limited.

"A curfew has been imposed and security forces have sealed off the area," she said.

"The Taliban are quite active in that area. They have been blowing up girls' schools, in recent weeks."

The purported chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Mohmand claimed responsibility for the attack.

"Our two suicide bombers targeted people who were working against the Taliban," Omar Khalid was quoted as telling the AFP news agency by telephone from an unknown location.

"Those who will work against us and make lashkars [a tribal army] or peace committees will be targeted.

"Our war is to enforce sharia [Islamic law] and anyone who hinders our way or sides with America will meet the same fate."

'Afghanistan-based'

Major General Athar Abbas, the chief spokesman for the Pakistani military, told Al Jazeera that the TTP fighters carrying out attacks in the area were based in neighbouring Afghanistan.

"This Mohmand area is part of our tribal areas ... this part of the agency remains unstable because the terrorists have crossed over to Afghanistan and they are operating from there," he said.

"We can't chase them we can't go into hot pursuit and this is causing a lot of trouble."

It was the second suicide attack in five months targeting Mohmand tribal elders allied to the government. On July 9, a suicide car bomb attack killed 105 people in the town of Yakaghund, also in the region.

Pakistan's military claims it has weakened the Pakistani Taliban through a number of military offensives since last year, but they continue to stage attacks on government, military and civilian targets.

"Whenever you put pressure on them, they fight back and this phenomenon will not be over in days. They will strike whenever they will get a chance," Mehmood Shah, a former chief of security in Pakistan's tribal regions, said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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