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Rocket attack kills 10 in Pakistan

world Updated: Jul 26, 2007 01:17 IST
Kamal Siddiqi
Kamal Siddiqi
Hindustan Times
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A rocket attack in Bannu on Wednesday, a town in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) near the Afghan border, killed 10 persons and raised fears that militant attacks have resumed in full force after a lull for the past couple of days.



Wednesday's attack is being seen as retaliation for heavy fighting between government troops and militants, which left 35 persons dead on Monday. The fighting is taking place in a tribal area of the NWFP, close to Bannu.



There was tension also in the tribal areas following the death of Abdullah Mehsud, a top Taliban commander, who blew himself on Tuesday during raid by government forces in Zhob, a town in Balochistan province.



On Tuesday, militants also kidnapped two soldiers in the tribal area and slit their throats and then dumped them. The war between "extremists and moderates" which President Musharraf has vowed to wage is now heating up say observers.



In the Bannu incident on Wednesday, four rockets were fired into Bannu hitting a number of houses, a mosque and a shop, a police official said.



Separately, a bomb explosion reportedly damaged a high school in Miranshah, headquarters of North Waziristan, on Wednesday morning, but no casualties were reported. In the Bannu attack, civilians were targeted when usually militants have made the military and police forces as their targets.



On Monday, pro-Taliban militants had warned Pakistani soldiers to "quit fighting" otherwise they would be given the "gift of death." There are fears that the ongoing strife between government forces and militants will escalate in the next couple of days.



One of the reasons for this is that a grand tribal jirga, which was trying to cobble together a truce between the militants and the government has given up its efforts.



Officials said that after three meetings, the jirga members informed the government that since the situation in North Waziristan was not conducive for them to visit as a group, the jirga members would now do so in their individual capacities.



The also said that they would revisit the talks since both the government and the militants were not budging from their positions. The government wants the militants to abide by an earlier agreement in totality while the militants want troop withdrawal from their areas before talks can resume.