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Asia-pacific

Female suicide bomber kills dozens at food aid center

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-12-25

A burqa-wearing female suicide bomber attacked an aid center Saturday, killing 41 people. Authorities say it may be the first suicide attack by a female in Pakistan and underscores the continuing strength of militants in tribal border areas.

AP - A female suicide bomber detonated her explosives-laden vest in a crowded aid distribution center in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 41 people and wounding dozens waiting for food stamps, officials said.

The attack appeared to be the first suicide bombing staged by a woman in Pakistan, and it underscored the resilience of militant groups in the country's tribal belt despite ongoing military operations against them.
 
The bomb hit the main city in Bajur, a region near the Afghan border where the military has twice declared victory over Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents. It also came a day after some 150 militants killed 11 soldiers in a coordinated assault in a neighboring region where the army also has carried out operations.
 
The bomber, dressed in a traditional women's burqa, first lobbed two hand grenades into the crowd waiting at a checkpoint outside the food aid distribution center in the town of Khar, local police official Fazal-e-Rabbi Khan said. The attacker then detonated her explosives vest, he said.
 
Khan said the victims were from various parts of the Bajur tribal region who gather daily at the center to collect food tokens distributed by the World Food Program and other agencies to conflicted-affected people in the region. The people were displaced by an army offensive against Taliban militants in the region in early 2009.
 
Islamist militants battling the state have attacked buildings handing out humanitarian aid in Pakistan before, presumably because they are symbols of the government and Western influence.
 
Local government official Tariq Khan said the blast also wounded 60 people wounded, some critically.
 
Although women rarely become suicide bombers in Pakistan, Tariq Khan and another local official, Sohail Khan, said an examination of the human remains has confirmed the bomber was a woman:
 
Bajur is on the northern tip of Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal belt, bordering Afghanistan and the so-called ``settled'' areas in Pakistan. It has served as a key transit point and hideout for al-Qaida and the Taliban.
 
Bajur and other parts of the tribal regions are of major concern to the U.S. because they have been safe havens for militants fighting NATO and American troops across the border in Afghanistan. The U.S. has long pressured Pakistan to clear the tribal belt of the insurgents.
 

 

Date created : 2010-12-25

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