Blast at Pakistan funeral kills 20

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 15, 2011 8:14 AM
Blast at Pakistan funeral kills 20

LOWER DIR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A suicide bomber attacked a funeral of a member of a pro-government Pashtun tribe in a village in northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least 20 people, police said.

More than 35 people were wounded in the attack in Lower Dir district near the Afghan border, where Taliban militants have carried out several attacks over recent years.

"It was a suicide attack and it happened when people were offering funeral prayers," police official Saleem Marwat told Reuters.

Pakistani Taliban militants have stepped up attacks on pro-government tribes recently.

The militants claimed responsibility for an attack on a school bus on Tuesday which killed five people, saying the children on the bus were from a pro-government tribe.

The U.S.-backed government has persuaded some tribes to take up arms against militant groups.

The Pakistani Taliban are holding hostage more than 20 young men from another pro-government Pashtun tribe in an area straddling the border with Afghanistan and have demanded the release of scores of prisoners and an end to support of offensives against them.

The teenage tribesmen from the northwestern Bajaur region were abducted by the militants on August 31 while they were on an outing in Afghanistan's border province of Kunar.

(Reporting by Mohammad Abdullah in Lower Dir, Saud Mehsud in Dera Ismail Khan and Augustine Anthony in Islamabad; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Robert Birsel)