Soldiers hurt in Pakistan explosions

Aljazeera's correspondent in Islamabad has quoted Pakistani officials in North Waziristan as saying that three Pakistani soldiers have been wounded after a remote-controlled bomb was detonated as their military vehicle passed near Miran Shah.

    Pakistan has deployed additional troops in North Waziristan of late

    Friday's attack came after the Pakistani government had deployed thousands of its troops in North Waziristan with the aim of hunting down foreign fighters in the run-up to the elections in Afghanistan, the correspondent added.

    Earlier, two bomb blasts destroyed a KFC and McDonalds restaurant in the southern Pakistan city of Karachi, injuring at least three people.

    Police official Imran Shaukat said that the explosions late on Thursday shook the two fast food restaurants in Karachi's upscale Defence district.

    He said there were no reports of casualties although the KFC outlet sustained considerable damage.

    The first bomb went off inside the KFC in a residential neighbourhood, where three families were dining at the time, said witness Muhammad Akhtar.

    Three injured

    The explosion shattered windows and three people, including a girl, were cut by flying glass. Three cars outside were damaged.

    Thursday's explosion in Karachi
    left three people injured

    Tariq Jamil, the city police chief, said the bomb went off on the mezzanine floor of the restaurant and blasted a hole through a concrete wall.

    Eight minutes later, a bomb went off outside the McDonalds on Karachi's crowded beach front, causing panic but no injuries.

    There were about 80 people inside the McDonalds at the time.

    Possible connection

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts. Jamil said both bombs were homemade and of low intensity.

    He added the attacks may have been linked to a nationwide strike called for Friday - by an Islamic coalition opposed to President General Pervez Musharraf, a key US ally.

    US fast-food outlets in Karachi have been targeted before. On 30 May, a KFC restaurant was burned and six workers inside were killed during an outbreak of religious sectarian violence in the city.

    Low-key strike

    Pakistan opposition parties called a nationwide strike against  Musharraf on Friday, but the response was low-key, witnesses and officials said.

    The response to nationwide strike
    against Musharraf was low-key

    Public transport was affected in some areas with fewer of the country's overcrowded buses plying the roads.

    However, most businesses in the capital Islamabad and the major cities of Karachi and Lahore were open.

    Police detained 34 opposition activists as part of stepped-up security.

    An alliance of Islamic and secular parties says the call is in response to a rise in petrol prices, recent talks between Pakistan and Israel, and a crackdown on religious schools by General Musharraf.

    In Karachi, Pakistan's main port city and commercial hub, paramilitary troops were patrolling "extensively" and the city's police were on "high alert" Karachi police chief Tariq Jamil said.

    Tribal shootout

    In a separate development, a Pakistani paramilitary soldier and two suspected kidnappers were killed early on Friday in an operation to free a hostage in the lawless tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, a local official said.
    Security forces wounded and arrested two other alleged hostage-takers during the shoot-out in Khyber agency, a designated tribal zone.

    Two soldiers were also wounded, Khyber administrative officer Fazal Maibood said.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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