News / Asia

UN Suspends Food Aid in Pakistani Tribal Region

Pakistanis receive rice from a distribution facility on the roadside in Lahore on December 26, 2010.
Pakistanis receive rice from a distribution facility on the roadside in Lahore on December 26, 2010.

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The World Food Program has suspended distribution of food in a Pakistani tribal region where a suicide bomber killed at least 45 people near a WFP center.

The U.N. agency's global media coordinator, Greg Barrow, told VOA Sunday the agency temporarily stopped all operations in northwestern Pakistan's Bajaur district for security reasons.  He expressed hope the suspension will be short, adding that the WFP has every intention of resuming operations as quickly as possible.

Listen to Ira Mellman's interview with World Food Program spokesman Greg Barrow


A female suicide bomber threw a hand grenade outside the distribution center in the town of Khar Saturday before blowing herself up in a crowd of people waiting for food aid.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The group said it was aimed at members of an anti-Taliban tribe that supports the government's military operations against the militants.  Children were among those killed, but no U.N. personnel were hurt.

((Pakistani)) Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani described the attack  as an act of desperation by militants. He said Sunday Pakistani forces have smashed Taliban strongholds in tribal areas, forcing the militants to go on the run.  Mr. Gilani said this has led the Taliban to turn toward what he called "soft targets."

U.S. President Barack Obama, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other world leaders condemned the suicide bombing.  Mr. Obama called the incident an affront to the people of Pakistan and to all humanity.

Also Sunday, Pakistani officials said that a series of battles on the border of the Bajaur and Mohmand tribal regions killed 40 militants and 11 soldiers.

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