Car bomb at Pakistani refugee camp kills 13

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm •  Published: March 21, 2013

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A car packed with explosives blew up inside a refugee camp on Thursday, killing 13 people in an attack that underscored the intensity of the conflict between the government and militants in northwestern Pakistan where refugees are sometimes caught in the middle of the fighting.

The Taliban have been waging a bloody insurgency against the government in an attempt to establish an Islamic state and end Pakistan's cooperation with the United States in fighting militancy.

The blast occurred in Jalozai camp, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Peshawar, one of three camps in Pakistan for people displaced by the fighting in the northwest. Militants often don't want residents to flee an area of conflict, partly because it deprives them of a civilian population where they can hide and undermines their claim that they have local support.

In addition to the 13 killed, another 25 people were wounded in the blast that happened just as hundreds of people lined up to get food, police officials said.

"It was very terrible, very terrible," said Mumtaz Bangash, an official with one of the aid groups who was working in an office about 30 meters (yards) from where the vehicle exploded. "We were very near. It was very loud. I have seen so many injured people."

Most of the people hit by the attack were from the Bajur and Khyber tribal areas along the Afghan border, said police officer Mohammad Zahid. The army has carried out operations against the Pakistani Taliban in both areas.

Among the dead were a security guard and an employee of a Pakistani aid group who were walking by when the bomb exploded, said Faiz Muhammed, who runs Khyber Paktunkhwa province's programs to help displaced people. The other 12 were camp residents.

Muhammed said that despite the blast, he and his staff would continue helping people at the camp, and he called on aid groups to increase assistance.

"We need to show these people that we will not be deterred," he said. "For the life of me, I cannot understand who would try to sabotage these people who are already affected by a war."

Jalozai, which is like a small city with a population of about 57,000 refugees, is run by the Pakistani government with assistance from various international aid agencies.

Many of the refugees get rations from the U.N. World Food Program, which feeds nearly 1 million people a month at Jalozai and other distribution points across the northwest.

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