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29 Dec 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ Commercial and other activities in Pakistan's financial hub of Karachi were at a standstill Tuesday, as the casualty count in an overnight suicide bombing at a Shiite event rose to 43, officials and media reports said.

Rescue services worked through the night to put out fires at several markets, set by angry mobs after an attacker blew himself up Monday among a procession of Shiite Muslims commemorating the death of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, Imam Hussein.

Sagheer Ahmad, health minister in the southern province of Sindh, of which Karachi is the …

27 Dec 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ At least 11 people were killed and dozens injured in a suicide bombing that ripped through a gathering of Shiite Muslims in the Pakistani part of disputed Kashmir region on Sunday, officials said.

Separately, a bombing killed a government employee in Pakistan's tribal region near Afghan border and five of his family.

The suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a procession of Shiite Muslims in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

"When the volunteers spotted the suicide bomber and challenged him, he blew himself up," local …

15 Dec 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ At least 23 people were killed and more than 60 injured Tuesday when a car bomb exploded near the residence of a minister in Pakistan's eastern province of Punjab, officials said.

The blast in Dera Ghazi Khan town demolished the house of Dost Mohammad Khosa, the provincial minister for local agencies and community development, and damaged half a dozen buildings in an adjacent market.

Mubarak Athar, the regional police chief, said a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden car near the main gate of Khosa's residence.

"The initial investigations …

08 Dec 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ A suicide bombing struck a garrison neighbourhood in Pakistan's central city of Multan on Tuesday, killing at least 12 people and wounding 50 others, officials said.

A rash of militant assaults has swept across the country since government forces launched a major offensive in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan near the Afghan border in mid-October.

The midday strike in Multan was the fourth to hit Pakistan in the last 24 hours, as three bombings killed 59 people and wounded 225 on Monday in Lahore and Peshawar, the capitals of two …

27 Oct 2009 description

Geneva_(dpa) _ At least 205,000 people have been displaced from South Waziristan owing to fighting between government forces and Taliban militants, the latest United Nations figures showed Tuesday.

Some 50,000 to 80,000 people are estimated to remain in the area most affected by fighting, said Manual Bessler, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Pakistan.

Bessler said humanitarian aid agencies still faces access problems, and were unable to reach people in the areas seeing combat as well as some of the displaced people.

Pakistan also has …

24 Oct 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ Pakistani troops captured on Saturday a strategic town after fierce clashes with militants, scoring their first major win in the anti-Taliban offensive near the Afghan border, officials said.

The assault in the South Waziristan region is a crucial test for the government that has vowed to defeat the militants and establish its authority in the lawless tribal badlands.

Nearly 30,000 soldiers backed by jet aircraft and artillery support are taking on an estimated 10,000 battle-hardened Taliban, including up to 1,500 al-Qaeda fighters, mostly Uzbeks.

Ground forces …

23 Oct 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ Explosions rocked Pakistan's troubled north-western region and a garrison town Friday, killing at least 26 people, mostly civilians, officials and media reports said.

Also Friday, 13 militants and two soldiers were killed during an ongoing military offensive against the Taliban in the lawless tribal district of South Waziristan.

A suicide bomber killed seven people and wounded more than a dozen outside the Pakistan Air Force's main production and maintenance facility in the eastern province of Punjab, police said.

The attacker, who was on a bicycle, …

21 Oct 2009 description

Nadeem Sarwar and Stefan Mentschel, dpa

Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan_(dpa) _ Hazrat Gul dodged flying bullets, exploding rockets, landmines and most importantly thirst and hunger as he fled the military offensive in Pakistan's tribal district of South Waziristan with his family.

Gul covered half the distance to Dera Ismail Khan, the first major town outside lawless South Waziristan, on a truck and the rest on foot on muddy roads because traffic was not allowed to move along the road under an indefinite curfew imposed by troops.

The threat to his life is over now, but like …

16 Oct 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ A suicide bombing and a rocket attack at two security installations in north-western Pakistan on Friday killed 16 people, including three soldiers and the same number of policemen, officials said, as the country reeled from a string of militant raids.

The attacks were the latest in a series of deadly strikes taking place across the country ahead of a planned offensive against the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in the South Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan.

A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden car outside an interrogation centre of the Crime …

27 Sep 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ The death toll in a pair of car bombings in north-western Pakistan rose to 27 on Sunday, police and hospital authorities said.

Rescuers found two more bodies of policemen as they clawed through the rubble of a police station in the volatile Bannu district, where a suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden pickup truck on Saturday morning.

"The confirmed casualty count as of Sunday stands at 14 - nine policemen and five civilians," police officer Talha Khan said.

Most of the victims died inside the building of Mandan police station, which was flattened …

01 Sep 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ At least 15 people were killed in torrential rains in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, local media reports said Tuesday.

Torrential showers began falling at the weekend and continued through Monday, causing chaos in the metropolis of nearly 17 million people.

Most of the deaths were caused Monday by collapsing houses and electrocution, the Aaj television channel said. At least three people were swept away in swollen channels, and more than two dozen others were reported injured.

Rainwater flooded the streets across the port city, stalling scores of vehicles …

12 Aug 2009 description

Islamabad_(dap) _ More than 100 people were killed and dozens injured Tuesday in clashes between Taliban militants and a pro-government militia in Pakistan's ungoverned tribal belt that borders Afghanistan, intelligence officials said.

The fighting erupted in the Jandola area of South Waziristan tribal district when dozens of militants loyal to local Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud attacked followers of Turkistan Bittani, who allied with the government after defecting from the Taliban.

"It was a very well-organized attack and the Taliban fired with heavy machine guns, …

20 Jul 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ The number of dead rose to at least 33 in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi as it received the first spell of monsoon rains at the weekend, media reports said on Sunday.

The casualties were caused by falling roofs and walls, electrocution, road accidents and drowning, the private Geo News television channel said.

03 Jul 2009 description

Christiane Oelrich,dpa

Cisarua, Indonesia_(dpa) _ Indonesia is steadily developing into a way-station for refugees from the Middle East waiting to migrate to a third country.

Afghan refugee Bashir Bahtiari, 45, has been stranded here just like his countrymen Habibullah, 29, and Ismail, 17, as well as Duraid, 44, and Dina, 32, from Iraq.

But all of them want to leave as soon as possible.

26 Jun 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ Two soldiers were killed and three wounded Friday in a suicide bombing, the first such attack in the Pakistani part of the disputed Kashmir region, while four troops died in a roadside bombing in the country's tribal belt along the Afghan border, officials said.

According to a military statement, a suicide bomber blew himself up next to a security vehicle near an army barracks in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir.

"Two soldiers embraced shahdat (martyrdom) while three others were injured," the statement added.

No one has claimed …

24 Jun 2009 description

Berlin_(dpa) _ Germany on Wednesday announced an increase in aid to help people displaced by the fighting in north-west Pakistan.

The Foreign Ministry said it was making an additional 1 million euros (1.4 million dollars) available to relief organizations working with the refugees.

The funds will primarily be used to care fur internally displaced people who have been unable to find shelter in refugee camps, a statement said.

More than 2 million people have fled their homes as a result of fighting between the Pakistan army and Taliban groups in the Swat Valley and tribal areas …

22 Jun 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ At least 43 people including six civilians were killed in airstrikes and clashes between security forces and rebels in north-western Pakistan during 24 hours, officials said Monday.

Jet aircraft pounded suspected Taliban positions in North and South Waziristan districts, where security forces have launched an assault to track down and eliminate Pakistan's top Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud.

Mehsud's network is accused of carrying out a series of suicide attacks across Pakistan and playing host to hardcore militants of Arab and Central Asian origin, who …

21 Jun 2009 description

Islamabad_(dap) _ At least 10 civilians and seven militants were killed in airstrikes by military jets and clashes in Pakistan's restive north-western region, officials and residents said on Sunday.

The latest deaths came as Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani repeated his promise to clear the country of extremism and terrorism.

Pakistani jets on Sunday morning pounded suspected militant positions in Makeen Bazar and Shakar Kot villages of South Waziristan, a tribal district where the al-Qaeda terrorist network and the Islamist extremist Taliban have …

09 Jun 2009 description

Ben Nimmo, dpa

Brussels_(dpa) _ The European Union is set to turn its spotlight firmly on Pakistan and Afghanistan at a series of top-level meetings next week, pushing for more cooperation on trade, democracy and the fight against extremism, according to draft EU documents.

The EU "attaches great importance to stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the wider region," a declaration drafted for a summit of the leaders of the EU's 27 member states on June 18-19 says.

"The complex and urgent challenges facing Afghanistan and Pakistan ...

05 Jun 2009 description

Geneva_(dpa) _ The International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday it did not have access to all people captured as part of the recent fighting in the north-west of Pakistan between government forces and Taliban militants.

Katherine Ritz, an ICRC official, told reporters in Geneva her organization was "in dialogue" with the government to gain access to those in jails.

"We do not have access to all detainees in Pakistan," she said.

The Red Cross is generally allowed to meet with prisoners and detainees in private, to ensure they are not being abused.