ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 2, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 14

Suicide bomber kills five in northwest Pakistan

KHAR, Pakistan, Saturday (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed three Pakistani paramilitary soldiers and two civilians today in the northwestern Bajaur region on the Afghan border, a military and a hospital official said. Violence in northwestern Pakistan has intensified since the collapse of a peace deal with militants and an army crackdown on a pro-Taliban mosque in the capital in July.

“It was a suicide attack. The bomber rammed his car into a convoy,” said a military official who declined to be identified. The attack on the paramilitary convoy took place in Mamoon district, 18 km (10 miles) north of Khar, the region's main town. A doctor at Khar's hospital said three soldiers and two civilians were dead and eight people had been wounded.

Bajaur is part of Pakistan's so-called tribal belt on the Afghan border, a rugged, mountainous region inhabited by conservative ethnic Pashtun tribes. Many al Qaeda and Taliban members took refuge on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border after U.S. and Afghan opposition forces toppled the Taliban government in Afghanistan in late 2001.

Despite Pakistani military efforts to clear out the militants, U.S. officials say al Qaeda and Taliban are still able to regroup and plot attacks from the Pakistani border lands. Separately, a council of trial elders, known as a jirga, was trying to secure the release of about 150 paramilitary soldiers being held by militants in the South Waziristan border region, a tribal elder said.

The soldiers disappeared on Thursday while travelling in about 17 trucks 40 km (25 miles) north of Wana, the main town in South Waziristan. Intelligence officials said the militants had taken the soldiers to mountain hideouts.

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