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Blast kills 17 at Pakistani camp for displaced people

A security official inspects a damaged vehicle at the site of a bomb attack nearJalozai camp in Nowshera district, northwestern Pakistan Mar
A security official inspects a damaged vehicle at the site of a bomb attack nearJalozai camp in Nowshera district, northwestern Pakistan Mar

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - At least seventeen people were killed by a car bomb as they waited for food at a camp in northwest Pakistan for those displaced by fighting between government forces and Islamist militants, police said.

The bomb exploded on Thursday in the Jalozai camp in Nowshera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, an area bordering Afghanistan and a stronghold for insurgents bent on toppling Pakistan's U.S.-backed government.

"Food was being distributed among the internally displaced persons when the blast took place," Nowshera police chief Mohammad Hussain told Reuters, adding that 33 people were wounded.

The camp is home to people who have fled violence in ethnic Pashtun areas along the border with Afghanistan where al Qaeda and Taliban militants operate.

Local officials belonging to provincial disaster management authorities and a female worker from a non-governmental organisation (NGO) were among the dead, officials said.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled from conflict over the past five years or so, from the tribal areas along the border and from elsewhere, such as the Swat valley, northwest of Islamabad.

Many people have been able to go home, especially those from Swat, but thousands remain in camps.

The Pakistani Taliban denied responsibility for the blast. Spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters it was "inhuman and un-Islamic to target innocents".

The blast comes days after the elected government completed its full five-year term, the first in the country's volatile history to do so.

The government has struggled with Taliban violence, sectarian unrest, chronic power cuts and a fragile economy. General elections will be held on May 11.

(Reporting by Jibran Ahmad; Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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