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Rawalakot Blast: 4 martyred in Azad Kashmir blast

At least 4 security officials have been martyred and 12 people have been injured outside army barracks in a blast in Sadhnoti, District Tarar Khal area near Rawla Kot, Azad Kashmir. The injured have been shifted to CMH and other hospitals. Some of the injured are said to be in critical condition.

SSP Irfan Masood Kishvi told TV channels that three people were martyred in the blast outside the residential barracks of MDS unit. All those killed and injured were security officials, who were going for morning parade.

Sajjad Qayyum, a local journalist, said that the blast took place outside the residential barracks of the CMH hospital. The area is near the Line of Control. The blast took place early morning when there were few people in the compound.

AGENCIES ADD

A suicide bomber killed three Pakistani soldiers on Wednesday near the demarcation line with India in Kashmir, the latest in a spike of attacks in the Pakistani-administered zone.

The bombing came a day after President Asif Ali Zardari visited the area — a fault line that has sparked two wars with India and distracted Pakistani attention from an expanding Taliban menace along the Afghan border.

The attacker detonated his explosives outside a barracks in Tarar Khal, southeast of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

“It was a suicide attack. The target was the army barracks. We have collected evidence and body parts of the attacker which proves that it was a suicide attack,” police official Irfan Masaood Kishvi said.

“Three security personnel have been martyred. The injured have been taken to the Combined Military Hospital,” Kishvi told AFP from the town of Palandri.

Kashmir was split into two in the bloody aftermath of independence from British rule over the subcontinent in 1947. Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan each control a part of the mountainous land but both claim the region in full.

Wednesday’s attack was the fourth suicide bombing in Pakistani Kashmir since June. On December 27, a bomber killed seven people outside a mosque in Muzaffarabad and analysts warn that the Taliban are extending their reach.

Militants have killed more than 2,890 people across Pakistan since July 2007, until recently concentrating attacks in the northwest, the neighbouring tribal belt and cities rather than the northern mountains and the east.

The elected leader of Pakistani Kashmir, Raja Farooq Haider, condemned the attack in Tarar Khal and blamed Taliban-linked extremists.

“The terrorists have attacked the Pakistan army and the entire Kashmiri nation condemns this attack,” he told AFP, confirming the death toll of three and adding that 11 soldiers were wounded.

“A foreign hand is involved in all these incidents. These people are not coming across the line of control but from our western borders,” he said.

Islamists say their campaign, which has become deadlier over the last year, is to avenge military offensives and Pakistan’s unpopular alliance with the United States in the eight-war against the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

On New Year’s Day, one of Pakistan’s worst bombings killed 101 people at a volleyball match in a key pro-government area of the northwest.

The attacks show militants are trying to maximise pressure on the authorities after an October army operation dislocated the Pakistani Taliban from its stronghold in the tribal district of South Waziristan.

“If they are coming from let’s say, these tribal areas, then perhaps the underlying assumption may be that they want to expand their activities to build a greater pressure,” said security analyst Hasan Askari.

The United States is putting pressure on Pakistan to do more to eliminate Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants along its border with Afghanistan, but the Pakistani military still eyes India as the primary threat to the country.

“The whole focus of the world is on Pakistan. Regional peace is linked with the resolution of the Kashmir dispute and peace can only come if the issue is resolved,” Zardari said Tuesday.

The bulk of Pakistan’s armed forces are based in the east of the country, although tens of thousands of troops have been waging offensives against Taliban strongholds on the Afghan border in recent years.

Relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated drastically after the November 2007 attacks on Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistani militants and accused “official agencies” of abetting.

India has accused Pakistan of arming and funding militants waging the insurgency in Kashmir, although Islamabad denies all charges. (Samaa TV)

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