Page last updated at 18:35 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Suicide bomb blast kills Welsh woman in Pakistan

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Belinda Khan's neighbours in Ynyshir have spoken of their shock

A British woman was among several people killed in a suicide bomb blast in a north-west Pakistan city.

Belinda Khan, 44, originally from Cardiff and recently living in Rhondda, died in the explosion in Mingora, in the Swat Valley, on Monday.

She is reported to have married a local man, Saeed Khan, who was also hurt, and had been married to his brother before he was killed by the Taliban last year.

Another former husband, Clive Gardiner, told of his "shock and disbelief".

Belinda Khan with her husband Saeed,
Belinda Khan with her husband Saeed, who was injured in the blast

She had converted to Islam a month ago, Pakistan's Daily Times reported, and was known by her Muslim name, Aamna. Mr and Mrs Khan had married only this month, the paper added.

The target of the attack appeared to be an army convoy, with two soldiers among the dead. Reports of the number killed have varied, with the Daily Times of Pakistan quoting official sources saying 13 dead.

Mr Gardiner, 46, from Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, said she had been his childhood sweetheart and they were married for 16 years. They had no children.

"It is a hell of a shock," he said.

"I didn't even know she was out there. I only sent her a text message a few days ago but I didn't have a reply.

"I just wanted to see how she was. Even though we divorced four years ago we still kept in contact and it was amicable between us."

Flames after blast in Mingora, 22 February
I only sent her a text message a few days ago but I didn't have a reply
Clive Gardiner, former husband of Belinda Khan

He said he "can't get over the shock of it all. I'm just trying to fill in the blanks".

Mrs Khan was a community care worker in south Wales during their marriage.

Close to tears as he spoke, Mr Gardiner, a former train driver, said: "That was her all over, she loved caring for people. They have held her funeral over there so I don't even have anywhere to go and lay flowers."

The couple met when they were pupils at Glan Ely High School in Cardiff. Mrs Khan's brother and other family members have been in touch with Mr Gardiner to give their support.

Mrs Khan is understood to have returned to Britain last year after the death of her first husband, whom she was reported to have met in Cardiff.

A neighbour in Ynyshir, Rhondda, said Mrs Khan and another woman had bought the house in the Rhondda village about a year ago and had moved there from Cardiff.

She said they were nice enough, adding they had "kept themselves to themselves".

Karen Kirby, who lived next door to Mrs Khan, said she was shocked that her neighbour had died.

pakistan map

She said that Mrs Khan had moved to the area within the last year but that she had known her since she was a young girl.

"She was brought up around here and her original name is Evans. I understand that she moved here from Cardiff," Ms Kirby said.

"I don't think anybody knew she was out in Pakistan or that she had any link to the country. She kept herself to herself.

"You knew her to nod to in the street and say hello, but that is about it. But this is still something that is quite frightening.

"We are in the back of beyond up here in Porth and this really brings home to you what is happening in the world."

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We can confirm that a British national was killed in the attack in Swat Valley on February 22.

"Next of kin have been informed and we are providing consular assistance."

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



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