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Bomb attacks kill 10 in Pakistan

Mon., Dec. 28, 2009

Official’s death believed payback for cooperation

ISLAMABAD – A pair of bombings on Sunday killed at least 10 people, including a government official, and wounded scores more, Pakistani authorities said.

The first blast hit the home of a local official in the Kurram area of Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal region, killing Sarfaraz Khan, his 13-year-old son and three of his young nephews, an official said. The Associated Press reported that Khan’s wife was also killed in the attack, but that could not be independently confirmed.

Some observers speculated Khan’s killing was in retaliation for his cooperation with security forces targeting Islamist extremists in the region. Khan had been “vocal and helpful to the security agencies,” Syed Azfal, a political activist in Khan’s home town of Sadda, said in a telephone interview.

In a second attack, a suicide bomber in the capital of the Pakistani-controlled portion of Kashmir detonated his explosives outside a prayer hall packed with worshipers marking Ashura, a Shiite Muslim holiday. The bomb killed at least five people and injured more than 80, authorities told reporters.

There was no claim of responsibility for either attack.

The violence, which occurred on the two-year anniversary of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, underscored the volatility now challenging the increasingly weak civilian government led by her husband, President Asif Ali Zardari. Zardari has faced calls to resign since the Supreme Court earlier this month struck down an amnesty that shielded him and other officials from corruption charges. Zardari is still protected by a clause in the constitution giving the president immunity from prosecution, but opponents say they plan to file court petitions contesting his eligibility for the office.

The military is battling Pakistani Taliban insurgents based in the rugged tribal region bordering Afghanistan. Militants have stepped up attacks nationwide since the army opened a major offensive in the tribal area of South Waziristan this fall.


 

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