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59 including 21 militants killed in Pak
Islamabad, Apr 17 (Agencies):
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Published on 18 Apr. 2010 12:15 AM IST
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Two suicide bombings at a refugee camp killed at least 38 people and injured 45 others Saturday in north west Pakistan, police said. The attacks occurred in the Kacha Pakka area of Kohat district in North West Frontier Province, apparently aimed at the Shiite Muslims among thousands of people that have fled the fighting in the tribal district of Orakzai.
Fazal Naeem, a provincial police spokesman, said by telephone that one bomber detonated his explosives among people queued up for daily rations provided by the government. Seven minutes later, as rescue work had just begun, a second suicide bomber struck, he said.
“Twenty-two bodies are lying in front of me and 16 of the 61 injured moved to hospital succumbed to their injuries,” Naeed said. “We have recovered the severed heads of the both attackers.”
Mubashir Khan, a doctor at the state-run hospital in Kohat, said 41 people had died and 60 were wounded.
In another military offensive at least 21 militants were killed in overnight attacks by soldiers in a tribal district in north-west Pakistan, an officer said Saturday. The clashes occurred in the Sanghra area of the Orakzai district, where troops backed by armoured vehicles, artillery and fighter jets launched an operation last month. “Our estimate is that 21 militants have been killed in these attacks,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “A number of their safe areas were also destroyed by the forces.”
Troops launched the operation in Orakzai against Taliban fighters who had retreated to the area to avoid a mid-October offensive in the neighbouring district of South Waziristan.
The police spokesman said most of the victims were Shiite Muslims displaced by the fighting between Taliban militants and the army in Orakzai district.
“It is clearly a sectarian attack,” Naeed said, adding that each of the two vests used in the attacks contained between eight to 10 kg of explosives. Pakistan has a long history of sectarian clashes between extremist groups from majority Sunni and minority Shiite Muslim groups.
The rivalry has intensified since the spread of Taliban influence in the border areas near Afghanistan. Taliban and Al Qaeda both belong to Sunni sect. Orakzai agency has been a main centre of sectarian violence, where militants led by Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud have regularly targeted Shiite Muslims.
The United Nations said this week that 210,000 people abandoned their homes since the military offensive began in late 2009. They include some 50,000 refugees who fled when the military launched a ground offensive last month.
Earlier, a security official said that 21 Taliban rebels were killed Saturday in fighting in Orakzai. Friday, a suicide bomber exploded himself at a hospital in Quetta, the capital of south-western Balochistan province. Eleven people, including a senior police officer, died in that attack against Shiite Muslims. A member of the national parliament from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party was one of 28 people injured.
According to official data, more than 350 insurgents have been killed in the operation, including Arab and Central Asian fighters associated with Al Qaeda. The death toll could not be verified through independent sources because media and aid workers have no access to the area. The US government is pressuring Pakistan to eliminate militant safe havens inside its territory, from which they launch attacks against US and other NATO forces in Afghanistan.

 
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