KABUL — A suicide bomber detonated himself yesterday as tribal elders left a meeting in a remote mountain village in eastern Afghanistan, killing one of the most senior local figures and 11 other people, including five children.
The New York Times reported that the meeting, which was being held to resolve local disputes in Jaja village, in Kunar Province, included powerful local leaders. Among the dead was Haji Malik Zareen, a commander renowned for fighting the Russians when they occupied Afghanistan, police said.
A local official who said he was afraid to give his name described Zareen as a supporter of President Hamid Karzai’s government who was known for strong stands against Pakistan.
In a rare disavowal, a spokesman for the Taliban denied that anyone linked to the group had played a role in the attack.
In Pakistan yesterday, two US missile strikes killed six reputed Afghan Taliban fighters in a tribal region. The Associated Press reported that the strikes, apparently from unmanned drones, drew sharp condemnation from Pakistan’s government just days after it asked Washington to limit such attacks.
The United States relies heavily on the covert CIA-run missile program to kill Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s northwest — a program Pakistan publicly denounces but has secretly helped.
The Obama administration said Tuesday it is negotiating a possible reduction in US intelligence operatives and special operations officers in Pakistan as the two countries try to mend relations badly strained by the detention of a CIA security contractor who killed two Pakistanis in January.