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Suicide bomber strikes funeral of anti-Taliban leader in northwestern Pakistan, killing 20
SHINA SAMAR BAGH, Pakistan (AP) ' A suicide bomber attacked the funeral service on Thursday of a Pakistani tribal leader opposed to the Taliban, killing at least 20 people in the second strike this week against local foes of the militant network.
The blast during the ceremony in the Lower Dir region, just 15 miles (25 kilometers) west of the Afghan border, also wounded 60 people.
The bomber struck as around 200 mourners were attending the funeral in the Shina Samar Bagh village, police officer Sher Hassan Khan said.
Another police officer, Salim Marwat, said the attacker hid in a nearby field and then ran toward the graveyard shouting "Allah Akbar!" ' the Arabic phrase meaning "God is Great" that is also a Muslim rallying cry ' then detonated his bomb.
Witness Gull Rehman said he saw the attacker, who died in the bombing, and described him as a man with a long beard. Rehman said the blast knocked him down but he was able to get up and help transport the injured to hospitals.
The funeral was for Bakhat Khan, who was a member of a local "lashkar" or militia that was opposed to Taliban rule in the region, police said. He died Wednesday night.
The tribesmen in the northwest have formed several such militias, for which they typically receive limited government funding. They have had some success at stopping militant infiltration, but are routinely struck by revenge attacks.
Many of the bloodiest bombings of the last three years have targeted "lashkar" members or their families.
On Monday, Taliban gunmen killed four children as they were returning from school close to the main northwestern city of Peshawar. The insurgents said the attack was aimed at stopping locals there supporting a tribal militia that is fighting the militants.
Associated Press Writer Riaz Khan contributed to this report from Peshawar.