x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Pakistan attacks kill 10 on eve of D8 summit

Militants hit Pakistani security forces on the eve of a major international summit, killing 10 people in regional flashpoints as delegates arrive in the capital.

QUETTA, Pakistan // Militants hit Pakistani security forces on the eve of a major international summit, killing 10 people in regional flashpoints yesterday as delegates arrived in the capital.

The attacks were a reminder of the security challenges in a country that has been plagued by Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked violence since 2001 and comes during the holy month of Muharram, a magnet for sectarian attacks.

Islamabad rarely hosts major international gatherings because of violence and its reputation as a hub for Islamist extremism in the north-west.

Thousands of extra police and paramilitaries will deploy in Islamabad for the Developing Eight summit, which brings together Egypt, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Egyptian leader, Mohammed Morsi, and Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are among those expected to attend the D8 summit.

In the south-western city of Quetta, bombers hit an army vehicle escorting children home from school, killing four soldiers and a woman, police said.

More than 20 people were wounded when the bomb, planted on a motorcycle, was detonated by remote control, police said. The wounded included three soldiers and 18 civilians.

Akbar Hussain Durrani, the home secretary of Baluchistan province, said two children aged eight and 11 who were passing by were among the wounded.

Witnesses said the motorbike appeared to have been parked near shops to avoid any suspicion in the Shahbaz Town neighbourhood near prestigious private schools.

"I was returning to my shop after saying prayers in a nearby mosque," said the shopkeeper Mohammad Talib, 45.

"Soon after, I heard a huge blast. There was dust and smoke. I saw an army vehicle in flames. Shards of glass were littered on the road. There was panic, people were screaming, others were fleeing the area."

Quetta is more than 640 kilometres from Islamabad.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for yesterday's attack but Quetta and its province Baluchistan are frequently hit by bomb attacks.

The oil- and gas-rich area borders Iran and Afghanistan, and suffers from sectarian violence, attacks by Taliban militants and a tribal insurgency.

Baluch rebels rose up in 2004, demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region's mineral resources.

In north-west Pakistan, five policemen were killed in two other attacks.

Four police died when gunmen ambushed a routine patrol in the Jani Khel area of Bannu district.

A roadside bomb in Shangla district also killed one police official and injuring four others, according to police.

Police said the target was a police van on a patrol 70 kilometres east of Mingora, the main town in the Swat region, where the army said it had defeated a Taliban insurgency in 2009.