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Blast kills 15 police recruits

world Updated: Aug 31, 2009 01:20 IST

Violence buffeted Pakistan’s restive northwest as a suicide bomber targetted a police station killing 15 police recruits in the Swat valley on Sunday, while 20 militants and two policemen were killed in clashes elsewhere in the region.

The suicide attacker blew himself up at a ground at the police station in Mingora, the main city in Swat district.

The blast killed 15 members of a new community police force raised to help security forces take on the Taliban.

Over 25 others were injured in the attack.

The attack raised questions about the Pakistan government’s claims that all major towns and villages in Swat had been secured after a three-month-long operation against Taliban fighters led by Maulana Fazlullah.

Brig Tahir Hameed, the army officer leading operations in Swat, said 18 militants were killed in clashes with security forces during search and clearance operations.

He told reporters in Mingora that more rebels were arrested and heavy weapons seized.

In a separate incident, Deputy Superintendent of Police Shafqatullah Khan and his driver were killed when militants ambushed his car in Karak district late last night.

One of Khan’s guards was seriously injured in the attack while two militants were also killed in retaliatory firing by the officer’s guards.

44 militants held

Meanwhile, the army said security forces had captured 44 militants during search and clearance operations in Swat and other parts of the troubled Malakand division.

Twenty suspects were apprehended during an operation at Ahingro Derai while nine suspects were captured near Mingora, the army said in a statement. pti