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Page last updated at 05:54 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008

Pakistan bomb attack 'kills nine'

Bajaur map

Nine people have been killed in a suicide attack in Pakistan's north-western Bajaur tribal region, officials and witnesses have said.

The bomber blew himself up during evening prayers on Thursday at a mosque in the Mamund area, they said.

An anti-Taleban tribal elder, Malik Rehmatullah, was said to be among the dead. At least five others were hurt.

Tribesmen in Mamund have raised a tribal force to counter Taleban militants who are active in the area.

Mr Rehmatullah was the head of this force, officials said.

Encouraging

The attack took place in Badan village, some 20km (12 miles) north-west of Khar, the administrative centre of Bajaur, an official in the local administration told the BBC.

The spokesman for the Tehrik-e Taleban Pakistan (Pakistani Taleban Movement), Maulvi Omar, also comes from the same village.

No group has claimed responsibility, but officials blamed the Baitullah Mehsud-led TTP for the attack.

The government has been encouraging tribes to organise their own traditional armies (or lashkars) to take on the Taleban in their areas, says the BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Karachi.

In the Salarzai area of Bajaur, such a tribal force has effectively denied sanctuaries to Taleban over the past couple of months, our correspondent says.

Suspected Taleban militants have in retaliation targeted tribal gatherings or jirgas with suicide attacks.

On 6 November, a suicide attack on a gathering in Salarzai killed 25 people and left more than 50 wounded.

Meanwhile, dozens of militants, members of anti-Taleban force and tribal elders have died in clashes between the militants and the tribesmen.

Last week, Taleban militants captured seven tribal elders during a clash.

Three of them have since escaped, but the rest are still being held by the Taleban.



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