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20 Killed In Violence On Pak's Independence Day

PTI 15 Aug 2011, 7:36:25 IST

Islamabad, Aug 15:  Seventeen people, including a journalist, were killed and dozens injured in bomb attacks and violence in the restive Balochistan province, while Taliban terrorists shot dead three soldiers in north Waziristan region as Pakistan celebrated its Independence Day yesterday.  A powerful bomb flattened a roadside hotel in Dera Allah Yar city, 200 km from Quetta, the capital of the southwestern province.

The blast killed 14 people and injured 33 others. The two-storey hotel was razed by the explosion, which damaged nearby shops and buildings. Officials described the condition of 13 injured people as critical.

The homemade bomb was planted in the hotel's ground floor and triggered by remote control when a large number of people were present in the building, police officials said.  Security personnel defused another bomb planted on a gas pipeline a short distance from the hotel.  Police officials said some persons could still be buried under the rubble of the hotel.

Footage on television showed local residents digging through the debris with their hands to pull out the bodies and injured.

In North Waziristan tribal region, Taliban militants attacked an Independence Day parade at an army camp, killing three soldiers and injuring 22 more.

The attack was carried out in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan Agency. Four rockets hit the Scouts Fort while security personnel were holding an Independence Day parade, security officials said.

The rockets landed in the parade ground and three soldiers were killed instantly.

In a separate incident, unidentified gunmen killed two labourers from Punjab province in Lasbella district of Balochistan.

The attackers, who were riding a motorcycle, opened fire at the men working in a farm in Sakran area, 10 km from Hub town. The gunmen then managed to escape.  The men succumbed to their injuries while being taken to hospital. They belonged to Muzaffargarh district of Punjab.  In another incident, Unidentified armed men shot journalist Munir Shakir in Khuzdar. Shakir died while being taken to hospital. The attackers managed to escape. Shakir was a correspondent for the Sabzbat TV channel and a newspaper.  Quetta Press Club president Saleem Shahid and Balochistan Union of Journalists president Eisa Tareen condemned the killing.

Shakir was the fourth journalist to be killed by unidentified men in Khuzdar in the past year, Shahid said.  In yet another incident, two children were wounded in an explosion at a bus terminal in Mastung town. They were taken to a nearby hospital.

Law enforcement personnel cordoned off the area and launched a search for the attackers.

The hitherto unheard of Baloch Liberation Tigers claimed responsibility for the bombing of the roadside hotel.  The group's spokesman, Miran Baloch, said a remote controlled device was used in the attack.  He told a news agency that his group would target those who participate in celebrations marking the Independence Day.  No group claimed responsibility for the other attacks.  Balochistan has witnessed a sharp increase in political and sectarian violence in recent weeks.

The violence is usually blamed on Baloch nationalist groups that have been waging a bloody campaign for more autonomy and a greater say in decision-making. PTI