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22 die in Waziristan ‘blast’

June 20, 2007


MIRAMSHAH, June 19: At least 22 people were killed and 10 others wounded when a missile hit a cluster of compounds in Datakhel area of North Waziristan on Tuesday, an official in Peshawar and residents in the area said.

However, a senior government official and the local Taliban said the death toll might be as high as 32.

Reports were sketchy about the cause of the explosion but local people insisted that missiles had hit a madressah, killing several people and wounding scores of others.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General Maj-Gen Arshad Waheed denied reports that Pakistan army or coalition forces had carried out the attack.

“It was an accidental blast in the area and, according to the tribal administration, 20 people were killed,” he told Dawn.

A source, however, said a cluster of three houses and a tent had been hit by a missile fired from across the border. He said that there were 45 or 46 people there at the time.

“It has been hit so badly that even those wounded might not survive,” he said.

The source denied that the houses and tent served as a seminary and said most of those killed were of Uzbek origin.

Tribal sources quoted local militants as saying that the attack had been carried out from Afghanistan.

Local people said the seminary had been struck by missiles in Mamerogha Seleria, about 45km west of Miramshah.

Initial reports suggested that 17 people had been killed inside the compound used as a training facility.

Tribesmen said militants with 28 coffins had been seen heading towards the area. The explosion which rocked the entire area occurred at about 10.30am.

Doctors at the agency headquarters hospital in Miramshah said they had not receive any wounded people from the site.

AFP quoted Maj-Gen Arshad as saying: “According to local officials, a group of militants was making explosives and there was an explosion.”

Local intelligence officials said the explosion happened in a bomb factory in a seminary.

Residents of the area said most of the victims were local tribesmen.

The US-led coalition in Afghanistan said it was not involved. “We checked into this and we have no indications that we have fired anything across the border into Pakistan,” coalition spokesman Col David Accetta said in Kabul.

According to AP, an intelligence official in Islamabad said the compound was about 3km inside Pakistan and it was surrounded by thick forests.