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UN food centers closed in Bajaur after attack

UN food centers closed in Bajaur after attackKHAR: Authorities have temporarily closed food aid distribution centers in northwest Pakistan, an official said Sunday, a day after a female suicide bomber killed 45 people and wounded scores more outside a World Food Program depot in the region.

Shafiq Khan, an official with the WFP food distribution project, said the regional government ordered the temporary closure of all four food relief centers in the Bajur district following Saturday’s bombing in the area’s main town of Khar.

The WFP project in Bajur feeds thousands of people who have been displaced since early 2009 by fighting between the Pakistan military and insurgents in the country’s rugged tribal regions along the Afghan border. It was not immediately clear how long the food distribution points would be closed.

The decision to temporarily shut down the program’s food depots over security concerns was prompted by Saturday’s attack, when a burqa-clad bomber lobbed two hand grenades before detonating her explosive belt among a crowd of some 300 people outside the United Nations agency’s aid center in Khar. It was the latest militant strike against the Pakistani authorities’ control over the key tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Khar administrator Sohail Khan said Sunday authorities have yet to identify the bomber.

The bombing, which the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for, drew swift condemnation from around the world, including President Barack Obama. In a statement released in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he was spending Christmas, Obama said that “killing innocent civilians outside a World Food Program distribution point is an affront to the people of Pakistan, and to all humanity.”

Britain, a staunch US ally in Afghanistan and a former colonial ruler of Pakistan, also condemned the attack, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai described the perpetrators as enemies of Islam and humanity.

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