updated 5/1/2008 4:06:18 AM ET 2008-05-01T08:06:18

An apparent suicide attack at the office of a religious organization wounded about 20 people Thursday in northwest Pakistan, an official said.

The blast occurred in Bara, a town in the Khyber tribal region about 15 kilometers (10 miles) from the city of Peshawar.

Government official Purdil Khan told The Associated Press that it appeared that a suicide attacker blew himself up at a gate leading to the office of an organization called Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

Sher Khan Afridi, a resident of Bara, told AP by phone that supporters of the organization were transporting the victims to hospitals.

Afridi said the group was led by Maulana Namdar, a cleric associated with a local militant leader involved in recent heavy fighting with rivals.

Bara and the surrounding area has seen repeated bursts of deadly violence between rival religious groups, some seeking to impose Taliban-style Islamic strictures and all of them heavily armed.

Khyber is one of the seven semiautonomous tribal agencies along the Afghan border where Taliban and al-Qaida militants are exerting ever-greater control.

In March, nearly 40 trucks carrying fuel to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan were destroyed and 100 people hurt in two bomb attacks at the Torkham border crossing.

Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan disappeared in the region on Feb. 11. Tariq Azizuddin appeared last month in a video aired on an Arab television channel saying he had been kidnapped by Taliban militants.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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