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Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Monday, 30 June 2008 12:44 UK

Pakistan militant house destroyed

Tribesmen gather in the rubble of the destroyed house in Par Qambarkhel area of Khyber tribal district 30 June 2008
The house was reduced to a pile of rubble

An explosion has destroyed the house of a militant leader in the Khyber region of north-west Pakistan, killing at least seven people, officials say.

It is not clear whether explosives stored in the building detonated or if it was hit by missiles.

Security forces began a drive against militants in the area at the weekend.

Separately, Islamabad and Rawalpindi were shaken by two loud bangs, but the air force said these had been caused by an aircraft breaking the sound barrier.

It said one of its fighter jets had been on a planned maintenance test flight about 70km (43 miles) north-west of the capital.

"The sonic boom waves travelled to adjacent areas due to high altitude and clear weather conditions," a statement said.

'Hit by missiles'

Officials in Khyber told the BBC the house of Haji Namdar, leader of one of the three militant groups active in the area, was blown up at about 0330 local time (2230 GMT).

Pro-Taleban leader Haji Namdar, speaking to reporters after the blast
Haji Namdar survived the blast

"Some witnesses say the house was hit by missiles, but it is also possible that explosives stored in the house blew up," a local official said.

Security forces launched a major operation against militants near the main north-western city of Peshawar on Saturday.

Militants have become more active in and around Peshawar in recent months, say correspondents.

Troops have also recovered eight bodies from another district in the same region, officials said.

They said the men had apparently been killed by militants, in Kurram tribal district to the south of Khyber.

"All of them had bullet wounds in the head and chest, but none of them was beheaded," an official from Kurram, Ataur Rahman, told the BBC.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan says this would be the first instance of Taleban justice in Kurram, where frequent sectarian attacks have claimed scores of lives during the last eight months.

"These killings are not related to sectarian violence," Mr Rehman said.

'No resistance'

The operation by paramilitary troops has destroyed offices and houses of militant leaders in the eastern parts of Khyber district, officials say.

Map

Our correspondent says security forces have not faced any resistance from the militants, who are reported to have moved to the remote western mountains near the border with Afghanistan.

The local Taleban have responded by suspending peace talks with the government.

"Talks cannot continue when the government continues to violate its promises and commitments," Maulvi Omar, spokesman for a network of pro-Taleban groups, said on Sunday.

Pakistan's new government launched negotiations with the militants in the spring, in an attempt to end a wave of attacks and suicide bombings.



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