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Central & South Asia

Pakistanis killed in suspected drone strike

At least five dead in attack on religious school reportedly visited often by leader of Taliban-linked Haqqani network.

Last updated: 21 Nov 2013 18:02
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The US has promised not to conduct drone strikes while Pakistan tries to engage Taliban in peace talks [AFP]

At least five people have been killed in a suspected US drone attack on an Islamic seminary in Pakistan's northwestern region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Fareed Khan, a local police officer, said the unmanned aircraft fired at least three rockets at the madrasa in the Hangu district, killing two teachers and three students just before sunrise on Thursday.

The identities of those killed on Thursday were not immediately clear.

An intelligence source told Reuters news agency separately that Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Afghan Taliban-linked Haqqani network, was spotted at the seminary two days earlier.

Pakistan publicly opposes US drone strikes, saying they kill too many civilians and violate its sovereignty, although in private officials admit that the government broadly supports them.

Most drone attacks occur in the North Waziristan region, where Taliban fighters are holed up, and are rare in densely populated places like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The latest attack took place a day after Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's foreign policy chief, was quoted as saying that the US had promised not to conduct drone strikes while the Pakistan government tries to engage the Taliban in peace talks.

The US has not commented on Aziz's remarks.

The previous drone strike in Pakistan on November 1 killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in the group's stronghold of Miranshah in northwest Pakistan, in an attack denounced by Pakistan.

Bombing in Quetta

In a separate incident on Thursday, a bomb targeting security forces killed three people and wounded 25 others in Pakistan's southwest, officials said.

The bomb, which was rigged to a bicycle, exploded near a group of soldiers and police patrolling in a vehicle in Quetta, capital of Balochistan province.

 

"At least three people including two policemen were killed and 25 others wounded in the blast," Samiullah Soomro, a senior local police official, told AFP news agency.

He said eight of the wounded, including six policemen and two Frontier Constabulary officials, were in a critical condition.

Zahid bin Maqsood, a senior local administration official, also confirmed the incident and casualties.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Elsewhere, in the northwestern bordering town of Torkham, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the halls of customs offices on Thursday, wounding 17 people, officials said.

Balochistan has been badly hit by a decade-long Baluch separatist insurgency and sectarian violence mainly targeting Shia Muslims from the Hazara ethnic community.

Local senior administration official in Landi Kotal, Tayyab Abdullah, said that authorities took possession of the body parts of the bomber after the attack.

He said that the impact of the explosion caused the roof of the hall to collapse.

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