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18 Feb, 2007 01:06

Explosion in Pakistani Quetta leaves 15 dead

Explosion in Pakistani Quetta leaves 15 dead

In Pakistan, 15 people have been killed in a suspected suicide bomb attack on a courtroom in the south-western city of Quetta. A judge and six lawyers are among the dead.

It is not clear who was behind the attack. The region has suffered longstanding unrest because of ethnic militants fighting for greater autonomy. 

Taliban leaders are also believed to be operating in the area.

And in the neighbouring Afghanistan Taliban-led insurgents are gaining public support in their campaign against foreign troops, a senior Pakistani official has said.

The governor of one of Pakistan's provinces said cross-border attacks accounted for only a fraction of the insurgency in Afghanistan.

He said the main reason for the Taliban's return was the frustration of ethnic Pashtuns who are seeking more political say in Kabul.

The remarks could inflame tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, after Afghan president Hamid Karzai suggested Pakistani security forces were secretly aiding militants.

And the Taliban's anticipated spring offensive in Afghanistan makes the U.S. extend the  tour of duty of thousands of U.S. troops by around six months.

The majority of troops had already packed and some were on their way home when the orders came at the end of last month.

Some soldiers received counselling to help them cope with the change of plan.

There are currently around 26,000 American troops in Afghanistan – the highest number than ever before in the war.