Militants mount deadly attack on Pakistan charity

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The Independent Online

Suspected Islamist militants yesterday stormed an office of World Vision, a US-based Christian aid agency in Pakistan, killing six Pakistani aid workers after singling them out and then blowing up the building.

Nuclear-armed US ally Pakistan is battling al-Qa'ida-linked militants who have launched a string of attacks over the past few years, including some on foreign targets.



Gunmen burst into the World Vision office in Oghi village in Mansehra district, about 50 miles north of Islamabad, at about 9am local time, police and a witness said.



"About 10 men came, they were all wearing masks. They kicked the doors down, took everyone out of their offices, put them in one place and then started shooting," said an office administrator, who asked to be identified only as Asif.



"They threw a bomb as they were leaving," he said.

The office was largely destroyed by the blast, which left a crater by the main door. Bits of broken concrete and glass littered the floor, which was also strewn with wrecked office furniture and equipment.



A door plastered with decorations for a birthday was blown off its hinges. Nearby, a calendar on a glass-strewn desk showed a workshop had been scheduled for Wednesday.



Pools of blood lay under an upturned chair and under a nearby desk. A trail of blood stained a concrete sidewalk at the back of the building.



World Vision said the six dead were Pakistani members of staff and it was suspending all operations in the country.



Seven members of staff were wounded and one was missing, the agency said in a statement, adding that its relief and development work in Pakistan was conducted by Pakistanis.



"Those who kill humanitarian workers must be reminded that they are not only killing their own country's residents, but also people seeking to improve the lives of victims of poverty and injustice," it said.



Mansehra town, in North West Frontier Province, has been a hub for relief efforts following an earthquake that killed 73,000 people in October 2005.



The area has been generally peaceful although there have been occasional attacks. In 2008, gunmen attacked an office of the Plan International aid agency in Mansehra town, killing four Pakistani staff.

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