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Violence In Northwest Pakistan Reportedly Kills At Least 29

Reports say a clash in northwestern Pakistan has left five Islamist militants and three members of a government-sponsored militia dead, even as an explosion at a market in the region killed at least 21 people.

Security officials are quoted as saying the fighting erupted late on February 16 after Pakistani troops and local militia launched a joint operation against Taliban in the Spindand area of the Khyber tribal district.

Three members of the security forces and four militia members were reported wounded.

A local official, Mutahir Zeb Khan, said the target of the operation was the militant group Lashkar-e-Islam.

Meanwhile, officials say at least 21 people have died as the result of an attack by a suicide bomber outside a Shi'ite mosque in Pakistan's restive northwest.

Officials say the bomber struck in a marketplace near the mosque in Parachinar, the main town in the Kurram tribal district, not far from the Afghan border.

Dozens of people are reported to have been injured, including some critically, in the blast, which occurred after Friday Prayers.

The Sunni Tehrik-e Taliban Islami Pakistan has claimed responsibility.

The Reuters news agency quoted a member of the group as saying Shi'a were specifically targeted because of anti-Taliban actions.

Thousands of civilians have died in bombings in Pakistani in recent years, with most of the attacks carried out by Islamist militants.

Pakistan's tribal districts near the Afghan border are strongholds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives.

With agency reports

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