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Motive Unclear for Northwest Pakistan Funeral Attack

Police in Pakistan say a bomb blast has killed at least 10 people in a northwestern town. The attack comes a day after a suicide bomber killed nine worshipers at a mosque in a troubled tribal region bordering Afghanistan. Ayaz Gul will file the story from Islamabad.

Authorities in Dera Ismail Khan say the powerful bomb went off near the funeral of a Shiite Muslim leader who was gunned down in the troubled city a day earlier.

Local police chief Nasir Mahmood says the motive for the attack is not clear and an investigation is underway.

"At the moment it is premature to make out whether it is a sectarian attack or otherwise," he said. "But from the preliminary inquiry it appears that it was a remote-controlled explosion. "

No one has claimed responsibility but the city has a history of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite groups.

A local leader of a Sunni militant group, Abdul Rauf Baloch, told VOA by telephone that sectarian tensions are high in the city but his organization is not behind the attack. He says that the bombing on the funeral sparked violent protests forcing police to fire tear gas to disperse the angry mourners.

Taliban and al-Qaida militants also are active in the northwestern Pakistani region. They are often blamed for suicide bombings and other attacks on security forces as well as government officials.

Friday's attack came a day after a suicide bomber struck a mosque in the tribal region of Bajaur, which borders Afghanistan. That bombing killed at least nine worshipers, including the head of a government-sponsored anti-Taliban tribal militia.

Pakistani troops are engaged in a sustained anti-insurgent offensive in the border region and are also encouraging local tribes to take on the militants linked to Taliban and al-Qaida. Militants have retaliated with suicide attacks on the tribal militias.

Pakistan has stepped up army operations in militant-infested tribal regions under pressure from the United States because extremists based in the area also blamed for cross-border raids on international coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have been under additional strain in recent weeks because of stepped up missile strikes allegedly launched by unmanned U.S spy planes against militant targets inside Pakistan. The attacks have killed dozens of people, including civilians. Pakistan says they violate its territorial sovereignty and are undermining its war against terrorism.

A suspected drone attack in the Bannu district this week killed six militants, including foreigners. That attack provoked Pakistan to summon the U.S ambassador to receive a "strong protest" on Thursday.

Latest violence in Pakistan follows a warning by Taliban militants that they will launch revenge attacks on foreigners and government targets in Pakistan unless the U.S drone attacks stop.