41 killed in market bombing

A Pakistani official says 41 people have been killed in a suicide car bombing that targeted an army vehicle in the northwest Shangla district on Oct. 12.

CA Online and wire services

2009-10-14

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A Pakistani official says 41 people were killed in a suicide car bombing targeting an army vehicle in the northwest Shangla district on Oct. 12.

Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the attack also wounded 45 people. He affirmed that six security personnel are among the dead.

The blast in the market was the latest in a string of major attacks in Pakistan, underscoring militant strength, preceding an expected offensive in the main Al-Qaeda and Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the weekend siege on army headquarters and vowed to activate militant cells across the country.

The blast in the Shangla district, the fourth terrorist attack in just over a week, may have been a car bombing, police official Tahir Khan said. An army car was ablaze at the scene, witness Khalid Khan said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq called the Associated Press, and said that the weekend assault on army headquarters which left 20 people dead was only the first in a planned wave of strikes intended to avenge the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in a missile strike in August.

"This was our first small effort and a present to the Pakistani and American governments," he said.

He added that the raid on army headquarters was carried out by a Punjabi faction of the militant group, and that orders had been given to other militant branches in Sindh, Baluchistan and the Northwest Frontier Province to launch similar operations.

Tariq warned the army against launching any offensive in South Waziristan, saying the operation would be its undoing.

Shangla lies east of Swat, which has been the focus of an intense military offensive against the Taliban. The army says it has largely cleared the valley of insurgents. Many Taliban are believed to have melted into neighbouring rural areas and districts.

[AP]

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