Suicide bomber attacks Pakistani mosque, 22 dead

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Updated 03 February 2013
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Suicide bomber attacks Pakistani mosque, 22 dead

HANGU, Pakistan: A suicide bomber killed 22 people and wounded 45 on Friday in a crowded market outside two mosques from separate Muslim sects in Pakistan’s restive northwestern town of Hangu, police and officials said.
The attack occurred in a tight lane that houses both a Shiite and a Sunni Muslim mosque. Some officials said the anti-Taleban Sunni Supreme Council often holds its meetings in the Sunni mosque, which was the possible target.
But district police chief Muhammad Saeed said the attack was aimed at Shiites and Sunni Muslims were also victims.
“Most of the dead were moving in and out of the mosques in the marketplace after Friday prayers when the bomb went off,” senior police officer Imtiaz Shah said.
Hangu, part of Pakistan’s border region with Afghanistan, has been racked by sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite tribes whose mosques, homes and shops are often close to one another.
Hangu is just a few km from Parachinar, which has a significant Shiite population against whom hard-line militant groups have launched attacks for years.
No group had claimed responsibility for the attack by early evening.


Koreas discuss reunions for war-separated families

Updated 12 min 48 sec ago
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Koreas discuss reunions for war-separated families

SEOUL: North and South Korea on Friday held Red Cross talks to discuss resuming reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, the latest step in the diplomatic thaw on the peninsula.
Millions of people were separated during the conflict that sealed the division between the two Koreas nearly 70 years ago.
Most died without having a chance to see or hear from their relatives on the other side of the border, across which all civilian communication is banned.
The resumption of the family reunions — last held in 2015 — was one of the agreements reached between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s president Moon Jae-in at their landmark summit in April.
Only about 57,000 people registered with the South Korean Red Cross to meet their separated relatives remain alive, most of them aged over 70.
Even if reunions are arranged, only 100 participants from each side will be selected.
For the lucky few chosen to take part, the experience is often hugely emotional, as they are given only three days to make up for decades of time apart, followed by another separation at the end, in all likelihood permanent.
“Let’s make the meeting a success by conducting it from a humanitarian perspective,” said the South’s chief delegate Park Kyung-seo, as he began discussions at North Korea’s scenic Mount Kumgang resort.
Pak Yong Il, Pyongyang’s chief delegate, responded: “The fact that the North and South are holding the first Red Cross talks in our famous Mount Kumgang is meaningful in itself.”
The reunion program began in earnest after a historic inter-Korean summit in 2000 and they were initially held annually, but strained cross-border relations have made them rare.
Pyongyang has a lengthy track record of manipulating the divided families’ issue for political purposes, refusing proposals for regular reunions and canceling scheduled events at the last minute.
North Korea has previously demanded it will not agree to family reunions unless Seoul returns several of its citizens, including a group of waitresses who defected from a restaurant in China.