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Page last updated at 14:18 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Blast 'kills five' in main city in Pakistan's Swat

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Footage from the scene of the blast in Mingora

At least five people have been killed and many others injured in a bombing in Mingora, the main city in Swat region in north-west Pakistan, police say.

Television footage showed black smoke billowing into the air and cars destroyed by the blast in a market.

The target of the attack appeared to be an army convoy - two of those killed were soldiers. Some reports say the blast was followed by shooting.

Attacks have been rare in Swat since the army ousted militants last year.

The Taliban had seized control of the district, seeking to enforce their austere version of Sharia law.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says Monday's attack will dent army claims the Taliban have been eradicated in the region.

'Huge blast'

According to witnesses, the bomb went off as an army patrol passed a bus stand near the city centre.

pakistan map

Soldiers and rescuers fought their way through flames to evacuate those caught in the afternoon bomb attack.

"Suddenly there was a huge blast and smoke filled the area. Then heavy firing started and I lay on the ground," one local man told AFP news agency.

Several shops and vehicles were destroyed. The injured have been taken to local hospitals.

Police say it remains unclear whether it was a suicide attack or a roadside bomb.

Officials say the dead included civilians as well as soldiers.

There were conflicting reports about the death toll, as some aid workers said as many as eight people had been killed.

Pakistan army soldiers cordon off the blast site in Mingora, capital of Pakistan's troubled Swat Valley, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010.
Mingora has not suffered an attack since last summer

This is the first major attack inside heavily-guarded Mingora since the army recaptured it from the Taliban last summer.

Attacks in and around Swat since the military offensive was launched have been rare.

In October a bomber targeting a military convoy in the adjoining district of Shangla killed more than 40 people.

In December a politician belonging to the ANP political party, which governs North West Frontier Province, was killed near Mingora.

On 3 February a bomb near a girls' school in neighbouring Dir district killed three US soldiers and a number of civilians.



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