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12 Dead Including Mayor in Pakistan Suicide Bomb Attack

VOA, November 9, 2009

Pakistani officials say a suicide bomber struck a crowded market Sunday in northwest Pakistan, killing an anti-Taliban mayor. At least 11 other people were killed in the blast and dozens were wounded.

Initially, Mayor Abdul Malik was reported to have survived the Sunday morning attack in the Matni area on the outskirts of Peshawar.

Officials say Malik, a former Taliban supporter, had switched sides and raised a militia to fight the Taliban. He had survived several attempts on his life since shifting his allegiance.

The market was crowded with shoppers and goats. The goats were being sold to to celebrate the upcoming Muslim festival of Eid.

Earlier, Pakistan's military said 12 militants were killed in its ongoing offensive against Taliban insurgents in South Waziristan near the Afghan border.

The military says security forces battled militants Friday as they fought for control of Makeen -- an area considered the main base of the Pakistani Taliban. Troops also tried to tighten their control over Sararogha, another Taliban stronghold.

Five Pakistani soldiers were wounded in the operations.

The army's casualty claims are rarely independently verified because journalists and aid workers are largely banned from the battle zone.

In other news, officials say Pakistan's media regulatory agency has shut down three "illegal" radio stations in Swabi district in the country's North West Frontier Province.

A statement says the FM stations were operating in madrassas (Islamic seminaries) and were instigating "terrorism and extremism" among students and the public.

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