Suicide bomber kills 8 in NW Pakistan

Pak Taliban claimed responsibility, saying the elders were targeted because they were helping the security forces.

Khar: A suicide bomber targeted pro-government tribal elders in Pakistan`s northwestern frontier Saturday, killing eight men, officials said; a day after US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during a visit here implored Pakistanis to take decisive steps to fight terrorism.

Eight men died and 10 were wounded when a bomb ripped through a restaurant at a market in the troubled Bajur tribal region, near the Afghan border, officials said.

Hours later, a government administrator, Shad Khan, said a man on foot carried out the attack.

"Now we have concluded that it was a suicide attack," he said.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman, Ahsanullah Ahsan, claimed responsibility, saying the elders were targeted because they were helping the security forces.

The latest attack underscored the militants` ability to strike at the tribesmen, who have often sided with government troops in efforts to rout insurgents.

It came a day after Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a seven-hour trip to Pakistan in a bid to repair ties damaged by the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden, which Pakistanis say was an attack on its sovereignty.

On Saturday, Pakistan`s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tahmina Janjua said Clinton`s visit had helped clear up misunderstandings and that the two sides would cooperate on raids against terror suspects.

Her comments at a weekly news briefing came hours after the suicide attack in the village of Salarzai.

Bajur is considered a militant stronghold and violence has persisted there since last year, when the military claimed that it had defeated Taliban and al Qaeda militants after more than a year of fighting.

On Thursday, a Pakistani Taliban suicide bomber detonated a pickup truck loaded with explosives near several government offices in northwest Pakistan, killing at least 32 people.

Thursday`s blast was the latest in a series of attacks to hit the country since the bin Laden raid, including an 18-hour siege of a naval base in Pakistan`s south.

Bureau Report

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