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DateLine Sunday, 17 February 2008

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Suicide attack kills 27 as Pakistan vote campaign ends

A suicide blast at a rally by slain Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto's party killed at least 27 people Saturday, increasing security fears with just two days until elections.

The bombing in the northwestern tribal town of Parachinar bordering Afghanistan came on the final day of campaigning for Monday's polls and was the latest in a series of attacks aimed at election rallies.

Security concerns surrounding the elections have combined with allegations of widespread rigging to suck the life out of electioneering, widely seen as decisive for the future of key US ally President Pervez Musharraf.

"It was a suicide attack, there were people outside the candidate's house and they were waiting for food when this man attacked. I have been told 27 people died and the number of injured is quite high," interior minister Hamid Nawaz told AFP.

"It is a very unfortunate incident. Maximum security measures are in place for the 17th and 18th (of February) and the campaign is going to end tonight," he added.

A further 93 people were wounded in the blast in Parachinar, the main town in the Kurram tribal district, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema said.

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