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WANA, June 24: An elderly man has committed suicide following the death of nine members of his family in the recent Nato bombing in the Mandi Zawar area of the mountainous Shawal region near the Afghan border, local people said.

Pikhawar Khan, 70, of the Gangikhel tribe committed suicide when he saw the bodies of nine members of his family, including three women and four children, a journalist of the area associated with a foreign television network told this correspondent during a visit to the area.

Quoting local people, he said only one child of Mr Khan’s family survived the bombing by helicopter gunships and aircraft.

“First, light-emitting balls were fired which lit up the area. Then machinegun rounds and artillery shells were fired from planes and helicopters, which shook the entire area,” witnesses said. They said a small restaurant was hit by rockets, injuring 11 people.

The helicopters fired on the makeshift house of Pikhawar Khan, killing his nine family members.

The forest-covered Shawal area is pressed into North and South Waziristan agencies. Many families had shifted to the area for cutting timber after local tribes lifted the ban on forest harvesting.

Residents said that after bombing the Zawar area, the helicopters and jets started pounding the nearby Rakha area along the Afghan border in the South Waziristan Agency. Nato and US-led forces started intense shelling on houses in Rakha in which 20 people were killed and scores of others injured.

Two of the injured were taken to a hospital in Wana. In the Rakha area, eight houses were hit by rockets and heavy gunfire. Reports say people have started evacuating Mandi Zawar in the North Waziristan Agency as tension has gripped the area.