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Blast kills 10 in Pakistan tribal elder's home


At least 10 people were killed and another nine wounded Monday in an explosion at the home of a tribal leader in a restive area of northwest Pakistan, officials said.

The blast came in a remote village in Khyber tribal district, close to the Afghan border in Tirah Valley, which last year saw fierce fighting between the Pakistani military and Taliban militants.

"The initial information suggests that the blast triggered by explosives killed at least 10 people including three children and wounded nine others," a senior local administration official, Nasir Khan, told AFP.

He said the explosion occurred in the reception area of the home of a local tribal elder identified as Hakim Khan.

"We are trying to ascertain the exact nature of the blast," Khan said but added that it appeared to be triggered accidentally, as most homes in the tribal belt store arms and explosives inside.

"There were explosives and mortars in Hakim Khan's house which exploded and caused the damage and casualties and it is not clear if he had any affiliation with any militant group," Khan said.

"Three children were also among the dead, but we do not know their ages yet and two seriously wounded men are being moved to Peshawar for treatment," he added.

Another local administration official confirmed the incident and casualties.

Last year saw a concerted military push in Tirah Valley, which is hemmed in by steep mountains and riddled with caves, and has been a stronghold for Islamist militants in Khyber.

The armed forces targeted Taliban and Lashkar-e-Islam militia fighters who were beginning to threaten the nearby city of Peshawar.

Khyber straddles the NATO supply line into Afghanistan, used by US-led troops to evacuate military equipment as they withdraw by the end of this year.

Thousands fled the fighting in Khyber district in the early months of last year, according to aid groups, though by June the army said it had taken control of all the key strategic heights.

Pakistani troops have been fighting for years against homegrown insurgents in the tribal belt, which Washington considers the main hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.