Bombs targeting police kill at least 30 in Pakistan


A suicide attack on a funeral and a roadside bomb in northwest Pakistan killed at least 30 people on Friday, many of them police, officials said.

The suicide bomber blew himself up among mourners attending the funeral for one of three policemen killed earlier when their van struck a roadside bomb in a region known as a haven for Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

At least 27 people were killed at the funeral in Swat, a mountainous region where security forces have been battling Islamist militants for months, according to Dr. Yasir at Swat's main hospital in Saidu Sharif, where most of the bodies were brought.

Karamat Shah, a deputy superintendent of police, said he feared the toll was higher as several people carried the bodies of relatives home to prepare them for burial. At least 50 people were wounded in the attack, Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said.

The policeman being buried had been killed near Bannu, a town at the gateway to North Waziristan, a tribal region where Al Qaeda cells have become entrenched.

"The device targeted the police van, killing three people and critically wounding two," said Hamza Mehsud chief of police in Bannu district.
A missile, believed to have been fired by a US pilotless drone, struck a house in North Waziristan on Thursday, killing 13 suspected militants including some believed to be Arabs.

On Monday, the army's top medical officer was killed in a suicide bomb attack in the city of Rawalpindi. The lieutenant-general was the most senior officer killed so far in the conflict with Al Qaeda inspired Islamist militants.

Over 450 people have been killed in militant-related violence this year alone. A suicide bomb campaign targetting security forces intensified after the army stormed Islamabad's Red Mosque last July to crush a militant student movement.

The escalating violence has raised concern about the stability of the nuclear-armed state, as it passes through a period of political transition with doubts over how long President Pervez Musharraf can hold onto power after his allies lost a parliamentary election on February 18. (Reuters)
 
 
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