Pakistani police say time bomb explodes during Shiite procession; 7 wounded

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Police: Bomb wounds 7 at Shiite march in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan — Pakistani police say a time bomb exploded during a Shiite religious procession in the eastern city of Lahore. Seven people were wounded in the blast and a subsequent stampede.

The explosion took place amid a traditional mourning procession for one of Shiite Islam’s most respected holy men.

Senior police officer Zulfiqar Hameed said the blast came from a low intensity time bomb.

Footage of the explosion shown on Geo television showed a small blast erupting amid a crowd of people on the street followed by a large plume of smoke.

Sunni extremists have targeted Shiite Muslims in the past, arguing they are not true Muslims.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Pakistan army jets and helicopters targeted militant hide-outs near the Afghan border, killing 60 people identified as insurgents or their family members, including children, security officials and a witness said Wednesday.

The deadliest strikes hit an area where army fire had killed 60 civilians earlier this year. Accounts of civilian casualties in army airstrikes make it harder for the military to win the support of local tribesman in the border region, something crucial to flushing out al-Qaida and Taliban militants who have found sanctuary there.

The attacks occurred Tuesday and Wednesday in different parts of the region.

There was no independent confirmation of the casualty figures because the area is too dangerous for outsiders to visit.

The raids Tuesday took place in several villages in Teerah Valley in the Khyber region and killed 45 people, the officials said. One official said some vehicles rigged with explosives had also been destroyed. He could not say how many.

He described the dead as insurgents, but said it was possible that people living with them could also have been killed. Separately, an intelligence officer said some women and children had been killed in the attacks.

Jihad Gul, who lives near one of the villages, said he had seen the bodies of at least 20 women and children.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said reports of civilian casualties were unconfirmed.

The security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

An air attack Wednesday in the adjoining district of Orakzai killed 15 suspected militants and wounded 10 others, according to local government official Jamil Khan and a brief army statement.

In April, the Teerah Valley was hit by army airstrikes that killed about 60 civilians. The army, which initially described the victims as insurgents, ended up paying compensation to the victims’ families and its chief issued a rare public apology.

Pakistan’s army has been fighting Islamist militants in different parts of the northwest for more than two years.

Militants who fled major operations in the South Waziristan and Orakzai tribal regions are believed to have set up new bases in Khyber, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of the main city in the region, Peshawar.

Associated Press Writer Hussain Afzal in Parachinar contributed to this report.

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