independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Militant chief injured in blast

Pakistani militant commander Maulvi Nazir has been wounded in a suicide bomb attack (AP)

A leading Pakistani militant commander has been wounded in a suicide bomb attack which killed seven people, officials say.

Maulvi Nazir is believed to have a non-aggression pact with the army.

The bomber attacked Mr Nazir in Wana, the main town in the South Waziristan tribal area, as he was arriving at an office he uses to meet locals. He was not critically wounded.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion is likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban, which has been waging a bloody insurgency against the government for several years and has jockeyed with Mr Nazir for power in South Waziristan.

The tribal area was the Pakistani Taliban's main sanctuary until the army launched a large ground offensive in 2009 and pushed many of them out.

Mr Nazir is widely believed to have cut a deal with the army ahead of the offensive that allowed him to stay in South Waziristan as long as he remained on the sidelines. The militant commander has in the past focused his fight against US-led forces in Afghanistan, not against the Pakistani state.

He had been running a secret campaign in recent weeks to push the Pakistani Taliban and foreign militants allied with them out of Wana and the surrounding areas, said intelligence officials.

The suicide bomber who attacked Mr Nazir appeared to be a 15- or 16-year-old boy.

"The moment the chief got out of his vehicle, the boy ran toward him and detonated his explosives," a spokesman said.

Press Association

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