Suicide bombings, airstrikes kill over 35 in Pakistan

November 7th, 2008 - 12:36 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Nov 7 (DPA) More than 35 people have been killed in two suicide attacks by suspected Taliban militants, and airstrikes of army helicopter gunships in north-west Pakistan, officials said.A suicide bomber, in his early 30s Thursday blew himself up when around 200 people from the Salarzai tribe were holding a meeting in Batmale village, some 50 km from Khar, the main town of Bajaur tribal district, to plan action against Taliban militants.

“According to the information we have received from the locals, 18 to 19 people have died in the blast and more than 40 are injured,” said Akhonzada Chitan, a member of parliament from Bajaur.

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 and has since fought several battles against them.

Lashkar was supporting the government forces which 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.

“What these gangs of thugs and criminals have brought in the name of Islam is barbarism,” Karim told DPA.

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

A spokesman of Islamic militant group, Caravan-e-Naimatullah, claimed responsibility for the Thursday suicide bombing.

Meanwhile, army helicopter gunships targeted several locations of Taliban in Bajaur late on Thursday.

“The locals have told us that at least 17 miscreants have died in the actions and around two dozens are injured,” a security official said.

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

Separately, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle next to a security check post near the police headquarter in Mangora, the main city in Islamic militancy-hit Swat valley.

The district police chief Dilawar Bangash said the post that was manned jointly by the police and the paramilitary Frontier Corps was completely destroyed and two security personnel were killed while 10 others were injured.

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