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20 killed in market suicide bombing

Twenty people were killed in a suicide bombing in a Pakistani market close to the Afghan border on Friday, officials said.

The attack came a day after the US released letters seized from Osama bin Laden's compound which criticised Pakistani militants for killing too many civilians.

Five of the dead in the blast in the Bajur tribal area were local members of the security forces, including one who had received an award for bravery in fighting Islamist militants, government administrator Abdul Haseeb said. The others were passers-by. At least 40 other people were injured.

The suicide bomber detonated his explosives as he approached a security checkpoint near the market in the town of Khar, said Mr Haseeb.

The attack took place as locals were heading to work or taking their children to school. The dead included a woman and several schoolchildren.

The explosion damaged more than a dozen shops, and rescue officials searched through the debris for anyone trapped inside. The ground outside the market was covered in blood and littered with the shoes of those hit by the attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the Pakistani Taliban or allied groups will be suspected.

On Thursday, the US released 17 letters seized from the compound of al Qaida chief bin Laden by American commandos after they had killed him one year ago. Many of them addressed bombings in which civilians were killed.

Two senior al Qaida leaders wrote a letter to Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud in December 2010 criticising the group for carrying out attacks in markets, mosques and other places that kill innocent Muslims.

The Pakistani Taliban rarely claim responsibility for attacks that kill many civilians, often blaming them on the US or Pakistani governments.

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