More than 50 killed in Pakistan violence
More than 50 people were killed in a suspected suicide bombing, shelling by army jets and artillery at positions of Islamic militants, in north-western Pakistan, security officials and media reports said on Thursday, reported dpa.
At least 24 Islamist insurgents, including al-Qaeda-linked Uzbek fighters, died in the restive tribal district of Bajaur, which borders Afghanistan, an intelligence official said.
The shelling that started late Wednesday and continued Thursday in four areas of the district, also destroyed half a dozen bunkers and an ammunition depot belonging to the militants.
"According to the preliminary reports, two dozens miscreants were killed," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said. "Around a dozen of them are Uzbeks."
He said the Uzbeks were believed to have come from Afghanistan to fight Pakistani security forces.
Islamabad launched a major offensive in Bajaur in early August to clear the district of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters launching cross-border attacks on US-led international forces in the neighbouring Afghan province of Kunar.
A military official said last month that 1,500 militants and 74 troops had been killed in the operation, during which the rebels had offered tenacious resistance.
But the security action has also killed an unknown number of civilians and left around 250,000 displaced.
In the same district, six people were killed and seven injured in a blast outside a mosque in Badan village.
Rehmatullah, a tribal elder, who was heading a lashkar (traditional army) raised by the Mamoond tribe against the Taliban, was among the killed.
The nature of the explosion was not immediately clear, but some media reports said while citing security officials it could be a suicide attack.
Pakistani government has recently encouraged the local tribes to oust Taliban and al-Qaeda militants from their areas where they were given refugee after US-led forces invaded Afghanistan following September 2001 terrorist attacks on United States.
But these ill-trained and poorly equipped tribesmen become easy targets to Taliban carnage.
Separately, army aircraft bombarded militants in two villages in troubled district of Swat in North Western Frontier Province (NWFP), leaving "between 15 and 20 miscreants," dead, another security official said.
Six members of the same family died and 16 more injured when a strayed mortar shell hit a house of Safeer Gul in Ganj Alam area of the district, Urdu-language Aaj news channel reported.