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01 Dec 2009 12:37
A suicide bomber killed a provincial parliamentarian in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday after walking into the official’s house along with guests and blowing himself up.
More than a dozen people were wounded in the attack in Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan, police said.
The army, battling a Taliban insurgency, launched an offensive in Swat in late April and says it has cleared most of the area, but it still faces pockets of resistance.
Lawmaker Shamsher Ali was a member of the Awami National Party, part of a coalition that rules the North West Frontier Province.
“People were coming to exchange Eid greetings with him when a man came and blew himself up,” his relative Farooq Khan said.
The nuclear-armed country is under growing United States pressure to crack down harder on militants to help fight the Taliban in Afghanistan, where President Barack Obama is expected to send 30 000 more troops to try to put down an insurgency.
That may be more difficult because Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari faces growing calls to relinquish many of his powers and analysts say it’s up to the country’s powerful military to decide whether to intensify the fight against militants.
Security forces killed more than 2 000 fighters in the Swat valley, about 120km northwest of Islamabad, in the offensive, according to the army. There has been no independent verification of that casualty estimate.
The leader of the Taliban in Swat and self-styled cleric Fazlullah telephoned the BBC last month to say he had escaped to Afghanistan and would soon launch raids against the army.
The army said in July he was believed to have been wounded.—Reuters
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