A bomb blast at a mosque in Pakistans northwestern tribal belt killed 29 people including some militants on Thursday,underscoring the relentless security threat here even as Pakistani-US cooperation against extremism appears on the upswing.
The attack in Khyber tribal region came as US special envoy Richard Holbrooke met with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad.
The bomb explosion tore through a mosque in the Aka Khel area of Khyber,killing at least 29 and wounding some 50,local official Jawed Khan said.
Officials were still investigating whether the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber or a planted device.
No group claimed responsibility,but Khan said the dead included militants from Lashkar-e-Islam,an insurgent group in Khyber that has clashed with another militant outfit known as Ansarul Islam. Both espouse Taliban-style ideologies.
Sources close to Lashkar-e-Islam said militant commander Azam Khan Akakhel and six of his bodyguards were among the dead. Khalid Khan Umerzai,the Commissioner of Kohat division,said that a large number of people had gathered at the mosque for prayers at the time of the blast. He said initial reports had indicated that about 100 people were injured.
Meanwhile in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region on Thursday,four militants were killed in a US drone strike,the fourth such strike on terrorist hideouts in as many days. The drone fired two missiles at a militant compound in Dande Darpa Khel village.
There have been more than a dozen drone attacks in the region this year. More than 700 people have died in drone strikes since August 2008 Pakistan has criticised drone attacks,saying they fuel support for militants,but observers say authorities privately condone the strikes.
2 more Taliban leaders held
KABUL: Two senior Taliban leaders have been arrested in recent days inside Pakistan,Afghan officials said on Thursday. They said the Talibans shadow governors for two provinces in northern Afghanistan had been detained in Pakistan. Mullah Abdul Salam,the Talibans leader in Kunduz,was detained in Faisalabad,and Mullah Mohammed of Baghlan Province was also captured in an undisclosed Pakistani city,they said.
The arrests come on the heels of the capture of Abdul Ghani Baradar,the Talibans military commander and deputy to Mullah Omar. The arrests were made by Pakistani officials,Afghans officials said,but it seemed probable that CIA officers accompanied them. Pakistani officials declined to comment. NYT