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8 killed, 40 injured in Pak suicide blast

Source: PTI
November 06, 2008 19:20 IST
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At least eight people were killed and over 40 others injured on Thursday when a suicide bomber struck a tribal council, which was discussing ways to take on the local Taliban, in Pakistan's restive Bajaur Agency.

The jirga or council of the pro-government Salarzai tribe was discussing measures to flush out militants from the area when the attack occurred.

Eight persons were killed while 40 people were injured, local residents and officials told TV channels. At least 14 people, some of them critically injured, were taken to a local hospital in private vehicles.

Local residents said the number of dead and injured could be much higher and it was difficult to get details as the blast had occurred in a remote area of Bajaur Agency.

The jirga was convened to step up an armed drive by the Salarzai tribe against the Taliban, they said.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

An emergency was declared in the hospital at Khar, the headquarters of Bajaur Agency, and appeals were made on loudspeakers for blood, witnesses said. A large number of people rushed to the hospital to donate blood.

The Salarzai tribe is one of the major tribes in Bajaur and was among the first to form a 'lashkar' or militia to take on the local Taliban.

The government and the army have backed the 'lashkars' but opposition political parties have warned that their actions could lead to civil war and more bloodshed.

The security forces are engaged in a major offensive against the Taliban in Bajaur since mid-August. The army claims to have killed over 1,500 militants during the offensive, but the claim has been rejected by the Taliban.

In the past few months, the Taliban have targeted tribesmen and elders who have opposed them.

In separate messages, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack on the jirga in Bajaur Agency.

Zardari said terrorism and extremism would be eradicated from Pakistan at all costs and the perpetrators of such heinous crimes would not be spared.

Gilani expressed sorrow and grief at the loss of lives and injuries caused by the attack.

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