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Policemen targeted as 10 killed in Pakistan attack

Pakistani policemen inspect the site of an explosion on a bridge in Bannu, some 250 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of the capital Islamabad on August 28, 2008. A bomb attack targeting policemen killed 10 people in northwest Pakistan on 28 August as Taliban-inspired violence threatened to exacerbate political instability in the nuclear-armed nation. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Bannu, Pakistan (AFP) Aug 28, 2008
A bomb attack targeting policemen killed 10 people in northwest Pakistan on Thursday as Taliban-inspired violence threatened to exacerbate political instability in the nuclear-armed nation.

A remote controlled bomb placed in a car ripped apart a police van in the northwest garrison town Bannu near the Afghan border, where tens of thousands of Pakistani soldiers are battling Islamic extremists linked to Al-Qaeda.

It was the first such attack to hit Pakistan since the government Monday banned the main Taliban militant group behind a wave of suicide attacks in the country that has seen more than 1,000 people killed in the past year.

The policemen were heading to work in Bannu, situated 250 kilometres (150 miles) southwest of the capital Islamabad, and close to the lawless tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, when they were hit by the blast.

"The explosives were packed in a white car parked on the roadside and detonated through a remote control. It has left a crater in the ground," Bannu police chief Masood Khan Afridi told AFP.

Tahir Shah, a local police chief, said that a van carrying the policemen had been deliberately targeted.

"When it reached Kurram Bridge another vehicle standing near exploded," he said.

A Bannu police official said that 10 people had been killed in the attack. A senior doctor at Bannu hospital confirmed eight bodies had been taken there along with 12 injured people.

Pakistan's northwest has been wracked by violence since hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda rebels fled there after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.

The latest incident comes with the nation's political future up in the air, with an election due on September 6 to choose a successor to Pervez Musharraf, who quit as president on August 18.

Musharraf had been a key ally of the United States in its efforts to combat militancy on the Pakistani border with Afghanistan, a region Washington says is being used as a launching pad for rebel attacks on coalition forces.

But violence linked to Islamabad's role in the "war on terror" has seen nearly 1,200 people killed in suicide and bomb attacks across the nation.

Pakistan's fragile coalition government has been struggling to tackle the violence that has seen so many of its citizens killed in the past year.

The interior ministry on Monday announced it was banning Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the main militant group behind the violence and which has threatened more suicide attacks.

The government said the group's bank accounts and assets would be frozen.

The TTP is headed by Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud, based in the lawless South Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan.

The previous government accused Mehsud of orchestrating the gun and suicide attack which killed former premier Benazir Bhutto last December, but he denied involvement.

The Islamic fundamentalist movement has been involved in a wave of suicide attacks targeting security installations to demand an end to an army offensive against militants near the Afghan border.

However, the military has pushed on with its offensive and for the past three weeks has been engaged in an operation in the Bajaur tribal area that has seen more than 500 people killed and 260,000 displaced.

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Russian official warns NATO transit to Afghanistan at risk
London (AFP) Aug 26, 2008
NATO should not be able to use Russian routes to transit supplies and equipment to Afghanistan because Russia has suspended military co-operation with the Western alliance, the country's ambassador to Kabul argued in an interview published Tuesday.

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