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Bomb kills official, family in northwest Pakistan

Police say a bomb blast has killed a government official and his five family members in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A bomb blast killed a government official and his five family members in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border on Sunday, police said.

Police officer Naeemullah Khan said a bomb planted in the house of Sarbraz Saddiqi in Sadda city of the Kurram tribal region exploded Sunday morning.

He says Saddiqi, his wife and their four children died.

Khan said the blast was in retaliation for the military campaign against the Taliban in the region. There also have been kidnappings of government officials in the area.

Pakistan's army is fighting militants and al-Qaida fighters in their heartland of South Waziristan. Militants are believed to have fled the offensive to neighboring areas, including the Kurram and Orakzi tribal regions.

Also in northwest Pakistan, a suspected U.S. missile strike killed three people Saturday, two Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The strike was apparently the latest in a lengthy campaign of such attacks by the U.S., which rarely discusses the covert program but has in the past said it has taken out several top al-Qaida operatives. Pakistan publicly opposes the strikes but is believed to secretly aid them.

Saturday's strike occurred in the Babar Raghzai area of North Waziristan and also wounded two people, the officials said. The identities of the dead were not immediately clear. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to media on the record.

Strike on militants
The area targeted is used by militants from two major factions that are battling U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan — the Haqqani network and the militants of warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

U.S. missile strikes in North Waziristan are sensitive largely because Pakistan has a truce with Bahadur. He agreed to stay on the sidelines as the Pakistani army has waged an offensive in South Waziristan against the Pakistani Taliban, a group that has focused on attacking the Pakistani state.

Missile strikes on his territory could endanger that deal, analysts have said. However, in the past the U.S. has indicated it will not hesitate to launch the drone-fired missiles if it tracks down an important target.

The South Waziristan ground offensive was launched in mid-October, but many leaders of the Pakistani Taliban are believed to have fled to other parts of the lawless tribal belt — including North Waziristan and the Orakzai tribal regions.

The military has carried out airstrikes in Orakzai and may launch a wider offensive there in the coming weeks.

A statement from the military Saturday said that a targeted airstrike at a compound in Orakzai had killed some civilians along with eight suspected militants.

"Military authorities have deeply regretted the loss of civilian lives," said the statement. It said the families of the civilian victims would be compensated.

Information from the conflict zones is difficult to independently verify because of restricted access.

Reports of beheading
Also Saturday, a local government official said the Taliban had beheaded a tribal elder who fought against them in the Bajur tribal region. The remains of 45-year-old Gul Mohammad was found in Mamund town near a road, Faramosh Khan said.

A note from the Pakistani Taliban attached to the body accused the elder of spying on militants.

Earlier this year, Pakistan's army declared it had vanquished militants in Bajur after a six-month offensive.