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Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 30 in Pakistan's Northwest

Authorities in Pakistan say a suicide bomb attack has killed at least 30 people and injured scores of others in a northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border. From Islamabad, Ayaz Gul reports.

Pakistani officials say that a meeting of several hundred pro-government tribesmen was in progress in the Orakzai region when the suicide bomber struck.

More than 100 people are reported injured, and doctors fear the death toll could go up because some of the victims are in critical condition.

Witnesses say the tribal council, or jirga, was organized to try to raise a militia group, known as a laskhar, to fight against Taliban and al-Qaida militants alongside Pakistani troops.

Pakistani authorities have encouraged tribesmen in parts of the country's volatile northwest to take up arms against extremist forces in their areas.

Experts, like former security chief of the Pakistani tribal region Mahmood Shah, say Friday's attack appears intended to discourage the anti-Taliban uprising. "They are trying to target the elders of the tribes who can do so, and they are also trying to attack the institutions, which can initiate such actions like the jirga (council of tribal elders) and the laskhar (tribal militia). So, I think it will definitely have an impact on the people," he said.

Local officials say that the suicide bomber hit the tribal council shortly after tribesmen had agreed to destroy a major militant base in the nearby village.

The attack came a day after a suicide bomber blew himself up at the heavily guarded police headquarters in Islamabad, wounding eight security personnel. Late last month, a powerful suicide truck bombing at the Marriot Hotel in the capital city killed 55 people, including foreigners.

Pakistani forces have recently intensified anti-insurgent operations in tribal areas, and officials believe that suicide attacks are a reaction to that policy.

Pakistani officials say a suicide bomber has killed at least 30 people and wounded dozens of others in one of Pakistan's tribal regions near the Afghan border.

Authorities say the bomber attacked a tribal council (jirga) meeting in Orakzai district, long regarded as the most peaceful of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous tribal regions.

Security officials say some 500 members of Alizai were meeting to create a militia - a lashkar - against pro-Taliban militants when a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into the group.

Officials say the council had decided to destroy militants' headquarters in the region.

Pakistani Prime Minster Yousaf Raza Gilani Friday condemned the bombing.

The attack was the latest in a string of deadly incidents in recent days. On Thursday, at least 10 people, including school children, were killed when a remote-controlled bomb detonated in the northwestern region of Dir.

A suicide bomber also struck Pakistan's anti-terror squad building in the capital, Islamabad, on Thursday, wounding at least seven people.

Four tribal leaders in Pakistan's Bajaur region were also beheaded Thursday by suspected militants after they attended a pro-government meeting.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.