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Six Dead in Pakistan Suicide Attack


A suicide bomb attack has killed at least six people, including four Pakistani soldiers, in the country's volatile tribal region near the Afghan border. The attack underscores growing concerns that a government-brokered peace agreement with local leaders in the region has collapsed. VOA correspondent Benjamin Sand reports from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Monday's suicide bomb attack took place at a military checkpoint just outside Mirin Shah, the main town in North Waziristan, a tribal area believed to be a refuge for Taleban insurgents and their supporters.

A spokesman for Pakistan's military, General Shaukat Sultan, told reporters most of the victims of the attack, which included several soldiers and a female civilian, died instantly.

He says the suicide bomber was driving a white car, which he evidently used to ram into a government convoy.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Fighting throughout the tribal region has killed hundreds of people since 2003, when the government launched a massive operation to secure the area.

There had been an improvement in security after the army signed a controversial peace agreement with militants in North Waziristan last September.

But fresh tensions emerged last week after a government air strike destroyed a suspected al-Qaida camp in nearby South Waziristan.

Monday's attack is sparking fresh concerns that local militants are no longer observing the peace accord. General Sultan says the bombing was apparently aimed at sabotaging the agreement.

There is also mounting evidence that extremists are using the deal to establish sanctuaries inside the tribal areas.

Security analysts in Pakistan say Islamic extremists in North Waziristan have significantly expanded their activities and influence since the accords were signed.

And U.S. officials say cross border attacks by Taleban insurgents have jumped more than 200 percent since September.

Meanwhile, Pakistani authorities have accused coalition forces in Afghanistan of mistakenly firing on a local border control post in the North Waziristan tribal area. One soldier was reported killed and two others injured.

Pakistan has lodged a protest with coalition authorities. Coalition authorities reportedly confirmed a precision strike did take place along the border but say the entire operation occurred inside Afghanistan.

Coalition and NATO representatives were not available for comment on any possible causalities suffered inside Pakistan.