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Suicide attack kills 11 in Pakistan, injures dozens

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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 religious leader Maulvi Kifayat told Geo television.

Raja Kafil Ahmad, spokesman for the Pakistani-administered regional government, said 11 people had died while more than 65 were injured.

Both Pakistan and India lay claim to Himalayan region of Kashmir and have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947.

Pakistan has a long history of violence between majority Sunnis and minority Shiites. Sunni Muslims make up about 80 per cent of Pakistan's more than 150 million people.

Separately, an explosion near a Shiite procession in the southern port city of Karachi injured over 30 people, Geo television reported. The nature of the blast was not clear.

Meanwhile, an explosion tore through the house of a government employee in Pakistan's troubled Kurram tribal district on Sunday, killing him and five other family members.

The blast occurred at the home of Sarfraz Khan in Sadda, a town located 35 kilometres south-east of the district's main city of Parachinar.

Khan, his wife and four children died in the bombing, local official Saifullah said. One girl was also injured.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion fell on Islamist militants seeking revenge for ongoing military operations against them in the region.

Several hundred Taliban militants are believed to have taken refuge in Kurram and other nearby areas after fleeing a major offensive in the adjoining South Waziristan tribal district.

More than 30,000 soldiers backed by jet aircraft and attack helicopters launched the operation in South Waziristan on October 17.

The army says over 600 rebels and 81 soldiers have been killed during the offensive.

On Sunday the military said troops had destroyed two terrorist hideouts in the region's Mandech area during the past 24 hours. One of the compounds housed a medical facility, equipped with surgical and X-ray equipment.

The US government describes the rugged tribal belt as the most dangerous place on earth, which is used by al-Qaeda and Taliban militants to mount cross-border assaults on Western forces fighting the insurgency in Afghanistan.

While increasing pressure on Islamabad to intensify its campaign against the rebels, the US forces have also stepped up attacks from pilotless aircraft on selective targets in the region.

Private Samaa news channel reported that the death toll from an overnight US missile strike in the North Waziristan district rose to 13 on Sunday.

Two missiles struck a suspected Taliban hideout in the Saidgai area Saturday evening, destroying the compound. Initial reports had said five people died in the raid, but eight more bodies were pulled from the rubble on Sunday.

Islamabad objects to the aerial raids, saying they prove counterproductive by inciting anti-American sentiment among the local people.

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