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Anti-drone campaigner kidnapped in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani anti-drone campaigner has “disappeared” from the city of Rawalpindi days before he was due to testify before European parliaments, his lawyer said Monday, accusing the country’s intelligence agencies of illegal kidnapping.
Kareem Khan, whose brother and teenage son were killed in a drone attack in December 2009, was picked up at his home by security forces in the early hours of February 5 and has not been heard from since, Shahzad Akbar, a lawyer representing him said.
Akbar said 15 to 20 men, some wearing police uniform and others in plain clothes, seized Khan, who was the first Pakistani to sue his government over the drone attacks that resulted in the deaths of his relatives.
“We lodged a report with the local police but they denied having picked him up. I checked with the central office of the police and they have no such arrest in their record, it seems to be work of the intelligence agencies,” Akbar said.
“The men did not disclose their identities and no reason was given for the detention. Mr. Khan’s wife and young children were present at the time, as was a neighbor,” he added.
Meanwhile, a suicide bomber killed four women in northwest Pakistan on Monday in an attempted attack on mourners at a funeral, police said.
The blast hit a house in Peshawar, a frontline city in Pakistan’s battle against insurgents, close to where a group of people were holding funeral prayers, senior police official Najeeb Ur Rehman told AFP. According to Rehman, the mourners spotted three would-be suicide bombers coming toward them but managed to scare them off.
Two fled the scene while the third entered a nearby home, unconnected to the mourners, and blew himself up at the entrance, said Rehman.
“Four women died and six people were wounded in the suicide blast,” he said.
Shafqat Malik, chief of Peshawar’s Bomb Disposal Unit, confirmed the suicide attack and told AFP that the bomber used around six kg of explosives along with ball bearings in his suicide vest.
Jamil Shah, a spokesman for Peshawar’s main Lady Reading hospital where all the dead bodies and injured were taken, told AFP that five of the injured were women.
The attack highlights Pakistan’s fragile security situation as the government is engaged in peace talks with the Taleban.
The insurgents have set tough terms for peace talks, demanding the release of all imprisoned fighters and the withdrawal of troops from the tribal areas.