Bomb kills 20 in Pakistan

2012-01-10 10:02
Peshawar - A bomb exploded close to a bus in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 20 people in the deadliest blast in the country in several months, a government official said.

The motive for the attack in the Khyber region, close to the Afghan border, was not known, but in the past Islamist militants have shown no hesitation in targeting civilians. Khyber is home to several extremist factions that are fighting the government.

Most of the victims were passengers on the bus, said local government official Iqbal Khan. The blast wounded at least 24 other people.

He said that the device was likely detonated by remote control.

Islamist militants with links to al-Qaeda have carried out hundreds of bombings in Pakistan since 2007.

Many hundreds of soldiers, police, government officials and civilians have been killed.

The Pakistani army has carried out offensives against the militants in their strongholds in tribally administered regions like Khyber, but the insurgents have proven to be a resilient foe. The violence has triggered fears in the West that nuclear-armed Pakistan may be buckling under extremism.

The frequency of large-scale attacks outside of the northwest has decreased over the last 18 months.

The last major bombing was in September close to the Swat Valley, when a suicide bomber hit a funeral of a tribal elder opposed to the Taliban, killing 31 people.

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