By Zulfiqar Ali and Hashmat Baktash
1:30 PM PST, December 18, 2013
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Five security personnel were killed and 34 wounded Wednesday evening when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden mini-truck into a mosque near a checkpoint in Pakistan’s North Waziristan Agency, officials said.
Army and Frontier Corps troops were praying at the roadside mosque when the explosion took place, said an official who asked not to be identified for security reasons. Five bodies were retrieved from the debris and 34 wounded soldiers were rescued.
The site of the attack is about 24 miles east of Miram Shah, the administrative headquarters of the volatile tribal agency, which is adjacent to Afghanistan.
In other developments along the border, an estimated three suicide bombers wearing police uniforms attacked a private truck stop Wednesday in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, killing a policeman and wounding two people, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, spokesman for the Nangarhar’s governor.
The site is part of the supply route to the Torkham border crossing, a major gateway between Pakistan and Afghanistan that has supported the 12-year U.S.-led NATO operation in Afghanistan.
The suicide bombers reportedly used small arms and attached magnetic bombs to trucks at the stop, causing 28 of them to catch fire, Abdulzai said. The suicide bombers were shot and killed by security forces.
In a statement emailed to journalists, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack and said it had damaged dozens of trucks and killed many American soldiers. The Taliban has a history of inflating its claims or taking responsibility for events it didn’t initiate.
In other developments, Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA mount a fake vaccination program in a bid to locate Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has been left in legal limbo after a tribunal rejected his plea for a retrial.
The three-member tribunal in Peshawar instead reportedly sent the case back to another appeal forum for reconsideration. Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in prison in 2012. The case has increased tension between the U.S., which has pushed for his release, and Pakistan, where he has been convicted in tribal areas under laws that apply only to those areas.
Many people in Pakistan view Afridi with suspicion, given that he allegedly worked for the CIA.
Afridi was arrested in May 2011, three weeks after U.S. forces killed Bin Laden during a raid on a house in Abbotabad, Pakistan.
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