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Rocket blast in Pak tribal region kills 14

Pakistani officials said the strike was launched from Afghanistan, but authorities there denied it. (Picture: Tribals from troubled Baloch region).

india Updated: Jan 13, 2006 15:48 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

A rocket hit a home owned by an elder in a Pakistani tribal region on Friday, killing at least 14 people, and wounding several others.

Pakistani officials said the strike was launched from neighbouring Afghanistan but authorities there denied it.

The attack follows a strike on a cleric's home elsewhere on the porous and often ill-defined border last Saturday that killed eight people, prompting a Pakistani protest to the US military in Afghanistan.

Islamic militants from groups like Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the militia of renegade Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are believed to be active in the area.

It was not immediately clear who launched Friday's attack. Pakistani security and army officials said just before midnight Thursday, a rocket hit a house in the village of Damadola in the Bajur tribal area, about 7 kilometers inside Pakistan. Damadola lies about 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of Islamabad.

An army official, who declined to be named as he wasn't authorised to speak to the media, said the house belonged to Gul Zaman, a Bajur elder.

"Apparently, the rocket was fired from Afghanistan to target someone who was inside at the time, but residents say innocent people were killed and no terrorist was there," said the army official.

A security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for the same reason, said 14 people had been killed in the attack and the house was destroyed. Several wounded were treated at a local hospital, he said.

In Kabul, US military spokesman Lt Mike Cody said he had no reports on the matter.

In Afghanistan's eastern province of Kunar, which borders Bajur, deputy provincial governor Noor Mohammed denied Pakistani allegations that the strike was launched from within Afghanistan.

"I have been in touch with all the security forces in Kunar and no one has heard about this," he said. "I don't think it's true the rocket came from within Afghanistan."

Mohammed Hasan, Kunar's deputy police chief, said he had not heard about the incident but added there were a number of militants armed with rockets and other weapons hiding along the border who were likely responsible.

Pakistani tribal elders claimed last week's air strike in the North Waziristan tribal region, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) southwest of Bajur, was launched by American helicopters that then landed inside Pakistan and took away five tribesmen.

The US military denied it had bombed the area.

First Published: Jan 13, 2006 12:49 IST