Suicide Blast Kills 41 in Northwestern Pakistan
By VOA News
13 October 2009
A suicide bomber targeting a military convoy killed 41 people and wounded 45 others in northwestern Pakistan Monday, while the Taliban claimed responsibility for a Saturday assault on the country's army headquarters.
Police say Monday's attacker struck the convoy in Shangla district near the troubled Swat valley as it was passing through a crowded market. Six security personnel are among the dead.
The bombing, Pakistan's fourth attack in a week, came as the Taliban claimed responsibility for the siege of army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi that killed 10 soldiers, four civilians and nine militants.
The siege ended early Sunday after Pakistani commandos stormed the compound, freeing 39 hostages.
An army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said the military has evidence that the group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan planned the assault from the South Waziristan tribal region, with the intention of taking hostages and exchanging them for captured militants.
The Pakistani military is preparing to expand an offensive against Taliban fighters in South Waziristan whom the army blames for more than 80 percent of all terror attacks inside Pakistan.
The former security chief of Pakistan's tribal regions, Mahmood Shah, told VOA the recent attacks show that the militants are united and may want to antagonize the international community.
Early Monday, Pakistani fighter jets bombed militant outposts in the northwestern tribal belt, killing nearly a dozen suspected militants and wounding others.
But the government also has come under international criticism for not cracking down on the Taliban-linked, Punjab-based militant groups.
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