Page last updated at 21:55 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 22:55 UK

Suicide bomb hits Pakistan border


Khyber Pass bomb kills at least 22

A suicide bomber in Pakistan has killed at least 22 guards at a checkpoint in the Khyber Pass on the border with Afghanistan, officials said.

The bomber approached on foot as guards were breaking their Ramadan fast, local police said.

The blast was the first major attack since the killing of the Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud earlier this month.

The BBC's Orla Guerin in Islamabad says the Khyber Pass is a lifeline for the Nato-led foreign forces in Afghanistan.

Lengthy supply convoys pass through every day, and it has been a frequent target for Taliban militants.

The blast completely destroyed a tribal police checkpoint at the Torkham border crossing in Pakistan's Khyber Agency - the autonomous region linking Pakistan's North West Frontier Province to Afghanistan.

Government bullish

Witnesses said the suicide bomber walked into the police offices and blew himself up at a table spread for Iftar, the traditional breaking of the Ramadan fast.


Ali Raza, an official in the administration office, told the Associated Press that he heard a huge explosion in the building next door.

"We rushed out and saw destruction all around," he said, adding that he helped rush the wounded to a hospital.

Several of those injured told Mr Raza that they had seen someone they described as a young boy carrying what looked like jugs of water for the security officers, AP reported, but it could not be confirmed if he was the bomber.

The latest attack came hours after a drone attack in South Waziristan killed at least four militants.

A militant hideout was targeted in the South Waziristan tribal region, Pakistani intelligence officials said, the same region where a strike earlier this month killed Baitullah Mehsud.

Earlier, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said recent army successes in Swat, Waziristan and elsewhere had broken the back of the country's insurgency.

In a BBC interview, Mr Malik also said Pakistani intelligence reports suggested that many foreign al-Qaeda fighters were now leaving Pakistan for Somalia, while others were returning to their home countries, including Sudan and Yemen.

Correspondents say Pakistan's military has made significant advances, but there is still a long way to go before the Taliban and al-Qaeda can be described as being defeated.

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