Blasts mar Pakistan's independence day

At least 14 people killed in two separate blasts as country enters its 65th year since independence from Britain.

    A member of Pakistan's navy stands guard as students celebrate Independence Day in Karachi [Reuters]

    At least three Pakistani soldiers have been killed and 23 others wounded in a rocket attack at a paramilitary base during a ceremony to mark the country's 64th independence day.

    Soldiers had just finished raising the Pakistani flag and were gathering for speeches on Sunday, when the rockets hit the base in Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal area, intelligence officials, who asked not to be identified, said.

    North Waziristan is the main sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaeda groups in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal region along the Afghan border.

    A second blast

    Another bomb ripped through a two-story hotel in Pakistan's restive southwest, killing at least 11 people and wounding nearly 20, police said.

    No one claimed responsibility for the attack in Dera Allahyar, a town in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, although police said they suspected ethnic Baluch separatists.

    The separatists have intensified their campaign since the assassination of a tribal elder, Nawab Akbar Bugti, in a military operation in 2006 during the rule of Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan.

    The town is about 300km east of the provincial capital, Quetta.

    "The bomb was planted inside the hotel and it exploded when a large number of people were sitting in a hall," Javed Gharsheen, a local police official, told the Reuters news agency.

    Witnesses said the two-story building was destroyed and rescue workers and police were removing the rubble to find any survivors.

    Police said the death toll could rise as several people were believed to have been trapped in the rubble.

    The rights group, Human Rights Watch, said in June that rights violations in the region were getting worse as armed groups and security forces targeted civilians, while authorities appeared unwilling to rein in lawlessness.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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