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Terrorism & Security

Taliban militants strike in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province

Tehrik-e-Taliban carried out Sunday's bombing, the deadliest since the new Pakistani government took power in March. The suicide attack came two days after the militants freed the Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan, Tariq Azizuddin.

By Mian Ridge / May 19, 2008

Taliban militants in Pakistan claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in the country's volatile northwest on Sunday that killed at least 13 people and injured more than 20.

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The attack occurred in the town of Mardan, 37 miles north of Peshewar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which is considered a haven for militants with links to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

A Taliban spokesman said that Tehrik-e-Taliban (Pakistan Taliban Movement) carried out the bombing in revenge for a suspected United States missile strike on a rebel camp in Pakistan's tribal belt last week, reports Agence France-Presse.

That missile strike killed 14 people in the town of Damadola. Tribal leaders and Pakistani officials say it was carried out by the US; the US military has not yet commented.

Pakistan's leading Dawn newspaper reports that the NWFP chief minister, Aneer Haider Khan Hoti, said the attack was designed to sabotage a Pakistan government-initiated peace process.

Sunday's attack was the deadliest since a new Pakistani government came to power in March and launched a peace initiative with Taliban militants in an attempt to root out Al Qaeda operatives from the tribal belt that borders Afghanistan. Pakistan has begun decreasing its troop numbers in parts of its border region and freeing Taliban prisoners.

On Friday, the militants freed the Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan, Tariq Azizuddin, who had been held by the Pakistani Taliban for more than three months.

US officials have questioned making such deals with the Pakistan Taliban, pointing out that previous talks gave militants time to regroup, resulting in a rise in Taliban attacks on US and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The Christian Science Monitor pointed out that according to the State Department's recently published annual terrorism report, suicide attacks in Pakistan had more than doubled to 887 last year because of terrorist regrouping during a 2006 cease-fire.

Sunday's attack came as Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met President Bush at a World Economic Forum conference in Egypt, where Mr. Gilani said his government was committed to fighting terrorism.


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