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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 July 2007, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Deadly attack on Pakistani troops
Pakistani troops in North Waziristan
North Waziristan is often the scene of troop clashes with militants
The number of soldiers killed in a suicide attack on a military convoy in north-western Pakistan has risen to 24, a Pakistan army spokesman has said.

Twenty-nine others were also hurt when the convoy was hit in the remote tribal region of North Waziristan.

Major General Waheed Arshad admitted the attack could be linked to the storming of the Red Mosque this week.

Troops have been sent close to the area amid fears militants may be planning a "holy war" in response to the siege.

Although no-one has claimed responsibility for Saturday's bomb attack, Maj Gen Arshad acknowledged that it could be a response to the army raid on the Red Mosque in Islamabad on Wednesday.

"We can't say for sure, but it could be a reaction to that," he said.

The week-long siege left 102 people dead, including 11 soldiers and an as yet unknown number of extremists and their hostages.

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The government's operation against the radical Islamists sparked protests across Pakistan

In the north-western city of Peshawar on Friday more than 1,000 demonstrators vowed to avenge the death of the mosque's deputy leader, Abdul Rashid Ghazi.

Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said the wounded from Saturday's incident, some of whom are in a critical state, had been taken to hospital by helicopter after the attack near the village of Daznary, about 50km (30 miles) north of Miranshah.

A search is still under way for one missing vehicle after the convoy was struck by the attacker's explosives-laden vehicle.

'Guerrilla war'

North Waziristan, near the Afghanistan border, is often the scene of clashes between troops and tribesmen or foreign militants.

In a second attack on Saturday, two security officials were hurt in a blast near the town of Bannu in North-West Frontier Province.

RED MOSQUE STAND-OFF
3 July: Clashes erupt at mosque, 16 killed, after long student campaign for Islamic Sharia law
4 July: About 700 students leave mosque, now besieged by security forces; mosque leader caught trying to flee wearing woman's burka
5 July: More than 1,000 students surrender to security forces
6 July: Women are allowed to leave the mosque; students' deputy leader says he would rather die than surrender
8 July: Ministers say wanted militants are holding women and children inside the mosque
9 July: Negotiators talk to mosque leader via loudspeaker without progress; three Chinese workers are killed in Peshawar over siege
10 July: Pakistani troops storm mosque after failure of talks; army says Ghazi killed
11 July: Pakistani army says all militants cleared from mosque

Thousands of troops have been moved into the province as President Pervez Musharraf vows to pursue his campaign of rooting out extremists.

Although there is no new deployment to Waziristan, militants there say the government has broken peace agreements by setting up checkpoints.

Militant commander Abdullah Farhad told the Agence France-Presse news agency there could be "guerrilla war" if all checkpoints were not removed by Sunday.

Protests against the Red Mosque attack were held across the country on Friday.

Demonstrators in Peshawar were told it was a "genocide" in which "hundreds of innocent women and children died".

In Islamabad, hundreds of demonstrators attended a rally organised by Pakistan's main alliance of radical parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal.

"This carnage will prove to be the last nail in the coffin of Musharraf's dictatorial rule in Pakistan," the group's deputy leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Hydri told the gathering.

"Now there will be Red Mosques everywhere in Pakistan."






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