Gunmen kill 8 in attack on minibus in Pakistan

AP News
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Posted: Mar 25, 2011 7:59 AM
Gunmen kill 8 in attack on minibus in Pakistan

Gunmen attacked a minibus carrying mostly Shiite Muslims and killed eight people on Friday in a stretch of northwestern Pakistan that has seen a recent peace deal between rival Sunni and Shiite tribes, a government official said.

The gunmen who carried out the ambush in the Bagan area of the Kurram tribal region also kidnapped 18 people from the bus, said Javid Khan, a local administrator. The attack was the latest blow to the peace deal, which was meant to end a four-year conflict that cost hundreds of lives, but has failed to extinguish violence in the area.

The bus was attacked as it was traveling on the main road that runs through Kurram that connects the main town in the region, Parachinar, with Peshawar, the capital of nearby Khyber Pakhtunwkha province, said Khan.

Violence had kept the road closed until the peace deal was struck in February.

Five people were wounded in the attack, said Khan. The bus was mostly carrying people from the Toori tribe, one of the main Shiite tribes that struck the peace deal, he said.

A similar attack killed nine people in mid-March who were traveling on the road from Parachinar, a Shiite-dominated town.

It is unclear how the Shiite tribes will respond following Friday's incident and whether the peace deal will be scrapped.

Tribesmen in Kurram have reported that the Haqqani network _ a fiercely independent branch of the Afghan Taliban and a major enemy of U.S. and NATO forces _ had helped cut the deal with the Shiites so it could use Kurram as a staging ground for fighting in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, who adhere to a hard-line interpretation of Sunni Islam, have at times exploited sectarian and tribal feuds to spread their influence along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

Also in the northwest, a roadside bomb struck a tribal police patrol in the Munda area of Lower Dir district, killing two policemen and wounding two others, police official Naveed Ahmed said Friday. The attack occurred overnight, he said.