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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Rocket attack on Pakistani city
A man injured in Bannu attack
Dozens of people were injured in the attack
At least eight people have been killed and 40 injured after a rocket attack by suspected Islamic militants on a city in north-west Pakistan, police say.

Four rockets were fired into Bannu hitting a number of houses, a mosque and a shop, a police official said.

Bombings and attacks have soared in Pakistan since security forces ousted pro-Taleban militants from a radical mosque in Islamabad earlier in July.

About 200 people, mostly police and soldiers, have died in the attacks.

Police have sealed all entry and exit points and also tightened security in the town
Bannu police officer Mohammad Ghulam

Meanwhile, one of Pakistan's most wanted Islamic militant leaders has been buried, a day after officials said he had blown himself up to avoid arrest.

Abdullah Mehsud, a Taleban veteran who the US freed from Guantanamo Bay, was laid to rest in his home village of Nano in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal area.

There was a huge turnout by local militants and tribesmen for the funeral. Mehsud was given a gun salute before being buried in his family's ancestral graveyard.

Civilians hit

Bannu is near the Afghan border on the edge of the North Waziristan tribal region, a centre of support for pro-Taleban militants.

The attack came before dawn.

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"They hit civilian areas. Eight people, including a woman, have been killed," Bannu's police chief, Daar Ali Khattak, told Reuters news agency.

But local journalists and eyewitnesses said the toll was higher. They said at least 14 people died in the attack. At least five policemen were among the injured.

It is not clear what the target of Wednesday's attack was and no group has said it fired the rockets, two of which landed not far from a police station in the crowded old city.

Observers say other police stations on the edge of the city would have presented targets with less risk to civilians.

Islamic militant groups have claimed responsibility for previous attacks in the region, most of which have been aimed at police and soldiers.

Other violence

Following the mosque assault, militants along the border scrapped controversial peace accords with the government.

Violence has risen dramatically since then, most of it in Pakistan's north-west.

On Wednesday, security fears prompted government offices and banks to close for a second day running in Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan.

A number of blasts were reported in the town, but no casualties.

And in the Khaar area further north, suspected militants killed two Pakistani soldiers kidnapped on Monday.

To the south, in Balochistan province, police said that unidentified gunmen had shot dead a former Taleban commander, Mullah Naimatullah Noorzai, in the town of Chaman.

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