A bomb at a mosque in Pakistan’s north-western tribal belt killed 29 people today.
The attack in Khyber tribal region came as US special envoy Richard Holbrooke met Pakistan’s prime minister in Islamabad.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack in the Aka Khel area of Khyber, but the dead included militants from Lashkar-e-Islam, an insurgent group that has clashed with another militant outfit known as Ansarul Islam. Both support Taliban-style ideologies.
Earlier this week, officials confirmed that a joint CIA-Pakistani security operation had captured the number two Afghan Taliban commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi.
Today an Afghan official said that around the same time – some two weeks ago - two Taliban leaders from northern Afghanistan also were arrested in Pakistan by Pakistani authorities.
Pakistan has said very little on the record about the arrests, but they could signal a shift in policy. Pakistan has long frustrated the West by either denying that the Afghan Taliban use its soil or doing little to root them out.
The arrests could mean that Pakistan has decided to turn on the Afghan Taliban, a group that it helped nurture as a strategic ally against long-time rival India, though some suspect the Pakistanis were forced to act because the U.S. had solid intelligence on Baradar that it could not deny.
The arrests came as Western and Afghan troops fight the Taliban for control of Marjah town in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province.