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Central & South Asia

Mass funerals in Pakistan after Taliban raid

Prayers held in town of Bannu for solders killed in attack on army post in country's northwest in which 35 people died.
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2013 07:21

Funeral prayers have been held in the northwestern Pakistani town of Bannu for nine solders killed in an attack at an army post that killed at least 35 people.

Taliban fighters wearing suicide vests fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at the base in Serai Naurang in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in a pre-dawn raid on Saturday, officials said. At least 10 civilians and 12 fighters were among the dead.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack. Spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan told The Associated Press that the attack was in retaliation for the recent deaths of two Taliban commanders in US drone strikes.

He accused the Pakistani army of helping with the attacks.

Pakistani officials often criticise drone operations as a violation of the country's sovereignty, but are known to have assisted some US strikes in the past.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media, said he saw the bodies of three attackers with their suicide vests intact.

The raid came a day after a suicide bombing at a Shia mosque elsewhere in the northwest that killed 24 people, police said. The blast at the mosque was the latest in a rising number of sectarian attacks in the country.

The Pakistani Taliban also claimed responsibility for that attack. 

The Taliban and allied armed groups have stepped up the pace of attacks in Pakistan in recent months, an indication of their strength despite numerous army operations against their strongholds in the northwest.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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