Friday, March 2, 2012

Scores Are Killed as Pakistan Battles Militant Groups

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Gunfights, military airstrikes and a large suicide bombing on Friday killed as many as 70 people in the tribal agencies bordering Peshawar, the provincial capital of northwestern Pakistan, in some of the worst violence in months in a strategic corner of the country.

In Khyber Agency, along the border with Afghanistan, a suicide bomber set off an explosion at the gates of a militant base, killing 23 people and wounding at least three others, said the local administrator, Mutahirzeb Khan. Many of those killed belonged to Lashkar-e-Islam, a local militant group that has imposed Taliban-style strictures on the local population.

Lashkar-e-Islam itself had been on the offensive only hours earlier, with a pre-dawn assault by dozens of fighters on a Pakistani military post, Mr. Khan said. That attack killed ten soldiers and wounded three, he said.

A senior security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said that 23 militants were also killed in the fighting, but that could not be independently confirmed. Read More