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50 Killed As Taliban Strike At Pro-Govt Militia Meet In Pak

PTI 06 Dec 2010, 20:21:46 IST
Peshawar, Dec 6: In a warning to anti-Taliban tribesmen, two suicide bombers disguised as policemen targeted a gathering of tribesmen and pro-government elders killing at least 50 people and injuring 120 others today in Pakistan's unruly northwest.

The first suicide bomber blew himself up outside the office of an assistant political agent in Ghalanai, the headquarters of Mohmand Agency.

Security personnel were attempting to capture the second attacker at a gate when he detonated his suicide vest.

Fifty people were killed and 120 others injured, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Information Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, told reporters in Peshawar.

The bombers' suicide vests were filled with bullets, which killed many people, officials said.

The deadly attack was the latest strike against local tribesmen who have been encouraged by the government to take up arms against the Taliban.

Two anti-Taliban tribal elders, including the chief of an anti-militant militia, two television journalists and government employees were among the dead. Twenty of the injured were in a serious condition, officials said.

About two dozen seriously injured people were taken to Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

The blasts caused widespread damage to the government compound, parts of which were reduced to rubble.

Two assistant political agents whose offices were targeted by the attackers escaped unhurt.

Metal detectors at the entrance of the compound were not working due to a power outage.

Security forces cordoned off the site and authorities imposed curfew in Ghalanai.

The entry points of Mohmand Agency were cordoned off and additional security personnel were deployed at all check posts in the region.

Officials said the bombers targeted members of an anti-Taliban lashkar who were holding a meeting in the government compound.

Some 300 people were present in the compound.

Tehsildar Shams-ul-Islam said the attackers came to the compound on motorcycles.

"The security arrangements at the offices are foolproof but suicide attackers can strike anywhere. There were no lapses on our part," Shams-ul-Islam said.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack, describing it as an "inhuman and brutal act of militants who have no regard for any religion."

In July, 104 people were killed when two suicide bombers targeted a government compound in Yakaghund village of Mohmand Agency.

The tribal region is located on the road between Peshawar and Bajaur Agency, once a stronghold of Taliban militants. PTI