Eight killed as tribal meeting bombed in Pakistan

Other News Materials 6 November 2008 16:23 (UTC +04:00)

An explosion ripped through a meeting of pro-government tribesmen in Pakistan's remote region along the Afghan border on Thursday, leaving at least eight people killed and more than 45 others injured, locals said.

The blast took place when around 200 people from the Salarzai tribe were holding a meeting to plan action against Taliban militants in Batmale village, some 50 kilometres from Khar, the main town of Bajaur tribal district, reported dpa.

"According to the information we have received from the locals, eight or nine people have died in the blast and more than 45 are injured," said Akhonzada Chitan, a member of parliament from Bajaur.

Urdu-language Aaj news channel reported while citing official sources that the death toll was feared to rise as many of the wounded were in critical condition.

It was not immediately known whether the explosion was caused by a planted device or by a suicide bombing.

Chitan said among the dead was tribal elder Fazal Karim, who headed the Salarzai lashkar, a traditional private army, which was raised against the Islamist militants two months ago.

"What these gangs of thugs and criminals have brought in the name of Islam is barbarism," Karim told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in a telephone interview on October 6.

Karim said that he had by then been attacked three times, twice by remote-controlled bombs and once by an ambush, which left his two nephews dead.

Government forces launched a major offensive in Bajaur in early August to clear the area of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters launching cross-border attacks on US forces in the Afghan province of Kunar.

According to official data, more than 1,500 Taliban have been killed while 74 troops died in the ongoing fighting, which has also caused scores of civilian casualties.