April 18, 2010 in Nation/World

Suicide bombers kill 41 Pakistani refugees

Victims had fled anti-Taliban offensive
Alex Rodriguez And Zulfiqar Ali Los Angeles Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Two suicide bombers attacked a refugee camp in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 41 people and injuring 64 others in what appeared to be retaliation for the military’s latest military offensive against Taliban militants.

The dead and wounded had been lining up for food at a refugee camp in the volatile tribal areas’ Orakzai region, said North-West Frontier Province Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain. Police said a suicide bomber rushed up to the line and blew himself up.

As others rushed to the blast site to help the wounded, a second bomber detonated his explosives. All of the victims were Orakzai tribespeople.

“The second explosion was more devastating than the first,” said Dilawar Khan Bangash, a senior police officer in the Kohat area where the bombings occurred. Bangash said the death toll was likely to rise.

The offensive in Orakzai is the latest in a series of military operations by the Pakistani army over the last year to uproot the Taliban insurgency from the country’s northwest. Last summer, the army flushed Taliban fighters out of the Swat Valley, and more recent offensives have pushed most insurgents out of the South Waziristan and Bajaur tribal districts.

Orakzai, long considered a hub for Taliban militants, recently received new waves of insurgents fleeing the fighting in South Waziristan. The military has been pounding suspected Taliban hide-outs with airstrikes from fighter jets and helicopter gunships.

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